Florida naturally conjures images of beautiful coastal beachfront, ocean, and open water. As a state, it remains one of the most popular destinations for water sports, both for tourists and residents. Boating is especially popular, but what most people do not consider is the implications of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Boating under the influence is treated much the same as driving under the influence, with both charges carrying similar consequences. The only difference between the road and the water is that on the water, you stand a higher chance of causing significant damages or injuries in the event of a crash.
Florida boasts the unfortunate statistic of the second-highest in terms of boating under the influence related injuries. For this reason, Florida law takes boating under the influence incredibly seriously. If you were involved in a boating accident that involved the consumption of alcohol or drugs, you need to seek the help of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you. This is doubly true if the Florida boat accident in question resulted in injuries.
Luckily, the criminal defense attorneys working for The Law Place in Florida have amassed a combined total of over 75 years of experience fighting cases just like these. With our wealth of practice and skill, we can handle your Florida BUI case with confidence and precision. We have been able to get the cases of many people in your position either diminished or dismissed entirely, avoiding large fines and multiple years in prison.
For a free consultation, at no obligation and protected by the attorney-client relationship, call our Clearwater, Florida office any time of the day or night on (941) 444-4444!
Florida Law Regarding BUI Incidents
The law relating to any case of boating under the influence in Florida is contained in Florida Statute 327.35.
This statute states that under Florida law – much like driving under the influence – you are eligible for a charge if your blood alcohol level is 0.08% or greater.
The possible consequences of boating under the influence can range anywhere from community service to years in prison followed by probation, with huge fines also possible.
The severity of this charge will depend on the circumstances surrounding it and the amount of damaged caused. Severe injuries, disfigurement, or death caused while boating under the influence can lead to a felony-level charge in Florida.
How Are BUIs and DUIs Treated Differently in Florida?
If a Florida law enforcement officer suspects that you are operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they have the right to pull you over and perform a breath alcohol test or other sobriety test, just like if you were driving a car.
These can encompass a number of sobriety tests, such as a breathalyzer for determining your breath alcohol content, a urine sample, or a blood test.
While you will not get your license revoked for refusing a breathalyzer test like you would if you were driving a car, you will instead be issued with an additional $500 fine should you refuse. This fine may then be challenged if necessary, though you should follow the advice of your criminal defense attorneys on this matter.
There are other key differences between DUIs and BUIs. For example, unlike on the road, law enforcement does not need probable cause to pull over a boat driver. This is because they have the legal right to board vessels in order to perform routine checks of the boat’s registration and permit validity.
What Circumstances Can Change the Way a Boating Under the Influence Charge Is Handled?
There are a number of factors that will be taken into account for BUI cases in Clearwater, FL. These factors will determine the severity of the consequences should you be found guilty of boating under the influence.
Some of these BUI factors are as follows:
- Does the accused already have a criminal history of BUI charges or DUI charges?
- How high was the accused’s blood alcohol content? Was there enough alcohol present for it to be considered extremely high?
- Were there minors present in the craft when law enforcement apprehended the accused?
- Did the BUI result in any kind of accident? What were the results of this accident and the extent of the injuries or mortality inflicted?
The Consequences of a Clearwater BUI Conviction
As already covered, the consequences of a BUI will depend on a number of factors.
The consequences for a BUI guilty charge may be any of the following:
- Community service.
- A fine of at least $2,000 for a first-time offense.
- A first-degree misdemeanor if you caused damages.
- A third-degree felony for inflicting serious bodily harm.
- A manslaughter charge if someone was killed in the BUI accident.
These penalties will also increase in severity if you are a repeat BUI offender.
In addition to all of this, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to argue that you should be forced to attend a drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation program inside of a specific facility instead of facing actual prison incarceration.
How Does Law Enforcement Handle BUI Manslaughter?
Manslaughter is naturally the most severe risk in a BUI case. As you have caused the loss of life of another person, you can expect steep consequences.
If the BUI accident either caused or contributed to the accidental death of another, you are looking at a second-degree felony charge for BUI manslaughter. This carries a sentence of up to fifteen years of imprisonment and a hefty fine of up to $10,000.
It is also possible to receive a first-degree felony for a BUI manslaughter charge. This occurs in situations where someone has accidentally caused the death of another in a BUI situation but failed to report or provide information about the incident. This will result in a prison sentence of up to thirty years, alongside the above-mentioned $10,000 fine.
How Does Receiving a BUI Charge Impact Your Driver’s License?
You would be forgiven for assuming that getting found guilty of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs would impact your ability to drive a car in the future.
However, this is not the case. Your driver’s license will not be impacted by a BUI charge or conviction.
This does not mean that you should not recruit a well-versed criminal defense attorney. The costs associated with fines and jail time can impact your ability to drive and live your normal life just as much as a license revocation would.
How Much Money Would Representation by The Law Place Cost?
Securing a criminal defense attorney with the skill set, knowledge, and experience to fight your boating under the influence charge to the fullest extent is incredibly important.
Many people are put off by the costs of securing legal representation. However, as mentioned above, the cumulative costs of fines and prison time make a guilty conviction even more costly. This is especially true if you are looking at a felony charge, which will result in a permanent criminal record and will impact your employment opportunities for life.
Unfortunately, we can’t give you a direct quote here. This is because everybody’s case is different, as is their personal and criminal history. For a completely transparent quote with no hidden fees or additional costs, arrange a free consultation by ringing the number at the bottom of the page today.
If you are in a precarious financial situation and are worried about being unable to afford legal representation, do not worry. We can work together to formulate a payment plan that works for you.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you need a lawyer to help you fight your boating under the influence charge, look no further than The Law Place in Clearwater.
Our highly-experienced team will waste no time establishing an aggressive defense to ensure you stand the highest chance of having the charges against you decreased in severity.
To find out exactly how we could help in your specific situation, call today for a free consultation and case evaluation. All these calls are at no-obligation, and your confidentiality is protected by law. Furthermore, we ensure our phone lines are always open to work around your schedule.
Don’t waste time. Call our Clearwater office at (941) 444-4444 today!