The State of Florida, particularly Clearwater, has a reputation for its boating scene. Whatever the purpose, whether it’s industrial or recreational, the bays in Clearwater are consistently in use. With this knowledge, it is unsurprising that lots of boating accidents occur in Florida, especially Clearwater. The main cause is people boating under the influence (BUI). A BUI in Clearwater is a criminal offense and is something that should be taken incredibly seriously, treated with the same severity as driving under the influence charges (DUI).
We understand that if you are facing a BUI conviction, you are likely to be feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It is a unique conviction that comes with its own complexities, which is why it is crucial that you have the right kind of legal assistance on your side. At The Law Place, we can boast years of experience helping clients with cases like yours. We will fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. Once you get in contact with us, you will receive a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney. We will immediately begin to work on your case and guide you through this process, so you don’t have to do it alone.
Contact us today on (941) 444-4444 to begin the steps towards freedom!
What Does Boating Under the Influence Actually Mean?
As stated in Florida Statute 327.35, it is illegal across the entire State of Florida to drive a vessel if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A vessel can be defined as a form of transportation that can be operated on water, with the exception of seaplanes. To be convicted of a BUI in Clearwater, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Your breath alcohol concentration (BAC) or blood alcohol level reaches 0.08% or a higher percentage.
- Normal functions have been harmed due to the influence of drugs or alcohol, so much so that it means you would fail a field sobriety test.
If you are under the influence, there are visible differences in behavior, which would mean that if you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer. If a law enforcement officer suspects that you are boating under the influence, they legally have the right to tow your vessel to the shore so that they can carry out a field sobriety test. From this test, they can make a real judgment on your state of mind.
It is worth noting that in some cases, a field sobriety test is not always totally accurate and can’t distinguish whether your BAC or blood alcohol level is over the limit. This means that in order to get an accurate reading and be charged with a BUI, you will need to get a urine or blood test taken. Due to the complexities, it is highly advisable that you seek legal representation as soon as possible as you don’t want to be in the position where you are wrongly accused of a BUI. Your criminal defense attorney will be able to support you through this process.
Charges for a BUI in Clearwater, Florida
For a first time BUI offense, or even a second one, you can expect a misdemeanor charge. However, if you are convicted for the third time, this is when the severity of the punishment will increase. If you are a third time offender of a BUI, you can expect a third-degree felony charge. Depending on the circumstances surround the BUI offense, charges may vary. For example, if your BUI resulted in manslaughter, the charges against you could increase to either a second-degree or first-degree felony.
Penalties for First-Offense BUI in Clearwater
If you are a first-time BUI offender, you will face a second-degree misdemeanor charge. With this, you can expect a monetary fine between $500-$1,000 and a jail sentence of 6 months. In some cases, if you have a clear criminal record, depending on the circumstances, you might not be sentenced to imprisonment.
As well as this, in some cases, a judge may rule a probation period. Normally this cannot exceed longer than a year, as well as a jail sentence. If you are facing probation, under Florida law, it is mandatory that you complete 50 hours of community service or pay $10 per hour of the community service.
As mentioned previously, charges will vary due to circumstances. This is why it is important that you are comfortable with your criminal defense attorney, as they can actively guide you through your specific charge. Listed below are some of the variations to be mindful of:
- If your BAC reading or alcohol concentration comes back at 0.15% and there was a minor present at the time of your arrest, you can be fined between $1,000-$2,000 as well as receiving a 9-month jail sentence.
- If your BUI resulted in property damages or minor personal injuries to another person, you could face $1,000 as well as 5 years imprisonment.
- If your BUI results in a serious injury to another person, you can expect a charge of $5,000 as well as 5 years in jail.
- If your BUI was the cause of the death of another person, you would be instantly charged under a second-degree felony and face 15 years in jail.
Penalties for Second-Offense BUI in Clearwater
If you are convicted for a second time BUI within 5 years of your first conviction, you will serve a mandatory 10-day prison sentence, and your vessel will be confiscated for a 30 day period. Similar to that of a first-time offense, the punishments will be more severe if your BAC levels are 0.15% or higher, and there was a minor present when you were arrested by law enforcement. This could lead to a 12-month jail sentence as well as a fine between $2,000-$4,000.
Penalties for Third-Offense BUI in Clearwater
If you are convicted for a third time of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and it is within a 10-year time frame of your previous convictions, you will face a third-degree felony charge. If this is the case, you will face 5 years imprisonment as well as a monetary fine of $5,000.
If it happened after the 10-year time frame, the case would be treated as a misdemeanor charge with less severe charges. You can expect between $2,000-$5,000 in fines as well as a 12-month jail sentence.
Call The Law Place Today
If you or a loved one are facing convictions for boating under the influence, it is crucial that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the sooner a criminal defense lawyer from a reputable law firm can get to work in tailoring your defense. With their help, you may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and arrest.
At The Law Place, we put the client at the center of all the work we do. Our main priority is ensuring that the person feels comfortable and can trust us as we work through their case together. Our team is full of knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers, all of which are well-versed in Florida law.
If you or a loved one are facing a BUI in the State of Florida and need to decide your next steps – let us be the help that you need. At The Law Place, our firm has worked on cases in Clearwater and Florida. Our telephone lines are open at all times, so call us when it is convenient for you.
For your free consultation with a Florida based criminal defense lawyer, call today on (941) 444-4444 to take the steps necessary to fight for your rights.