Florida is famous across the country for its beautiful lakes and picturesque waterways. Naturally, this sees a large number of boats and vessels being used on its waters every year. Unfortunately, a large increase in activity on the water sees an increase in accidents and crimes too. Many people are surprised to know that boating under the influence is a serious crime that happens regularly in Fort Myers, FL. It is regarded, often by tourists, to be a minor infraction, and most people do not consider the consequences it can have. Boating under the influence can result in felony charges for anyone arrested on multiple occasions or if serious injuries occurred as a result.
If you or a loved one is facing charges of operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Fort Myers, then you need to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Ensure that you seek representation with plenty of experience in dealing with criminal cases, particularly BUIs so that you have the best chance of seeing your charges reduced or dropped entirely. Failing to hire the right attorney could result in you facing large fines, a prison sentence, and a permanent criminal record.
At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of combined experience in representing clients in the same position as you. We are proud of our positive client testimonies and our strong attorney-client relationships. By working as a team, we build our client’s defenses using our shared knowledge of previous cases and experience in defending people in front of a judge and jury. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and see exactly what options you have moving forward. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so call us now at (941) 444-4444.
Defining Boating Under the Influence in Fort Myers, Florida
It may surprise you to know that Florida treats boating under the influence much like it does driving a car whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This offense is commonly known as a DUI.
Florida Statute 327.35 outlines the laws that surround boating under the influence in Fort Myers, FL. It states that anyone operating a vessel whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be charged with a BUI. The following is a list of circumstances that would make someone in breach of this statute:
- If a person has a breath or blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
- If a person’s drug or alcohol consumption has led to the impairment of their faculties. Law enforcement officers usually apply a sobriety test to determine this.
The law considers the word vessel to mean any type of vehicle that can be used for the transportation of people on the water. Included in this list are airboats, jet skis, barges, and boats. Seaplanes are the only exception to this law.
What Counts as Having Your Normal Faculties Impaired in a Fort Myers Case?
For further information on the lawful definition of impaired faculties, refer to Florida Statute 316.1934. In short, however, a person’s faculties are impaired if their ability to walk, talk, see, hear, or make judgments has been affected.
As previously mentioned, law enforcement officers may use a sobriety test to determine if someone is impaired. Examples of sobriety tests include breathalyzer tests, field sobriety tests, and blood analysis. A breathalyzer test is commonly used to give an accurate BAC percentage and will be used in any case made against a suspect.
In Which Situations Are Fort Myers BUIs Likely to Result in Felony Charges?
Fortunately, not everyone charged with a BUI in Fort Myers, FL., will face felony charges. Most of the time, anyone facing a first or second BUI conviction will receive a misdemeanor. However, this is not guaranteed, and a felony BUI charge may be given under the following circumstances:
- If you already have previously been charged with BUI or DUI offenses.
- If the result of your blood or breathalyzer test showed an excessively high alcohol content.
- If the accident caused serious bodily injury to another person.
- If the accident led to the death of another person. This would change the BUI to a manslaughter charge.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney is imperative if any of the above examples relate to your situation. Working with a law firm that has experience in representing BUI cases will give you the best chance of having your charges reduced.
At The Law Place, Fort Myers, our criminal defense team has defended numerous cases just like yours. Contact us today for client testimonies that show just how committed we are to every case we represent. Schedule a free consultation today and receive reliable and impartial legal advice, no strings attached.
Criminal Charges for Repeat BUI Offenses in Fort Myers, FL.
Just like with a DUI charge, the harshness of your punishment will depend on the presence of previous criminal convictions, particularly if they are of the same nature as a BUI.
If this is your first BUI charge, the chances of only receiving a second-degree misdemeanor are high. The penalties for this are:
- A fine of up to $1,000.
- A maximum prison sentence of 6 months.
- A 6 months probation period after your prison sentence is complete.
- 50 hours of community service.
- A 10-day immobilization or impoundment period of the vessel used to commit the BUI.
With that said, you have a good chance of avoiding any prison time if you have a clean criminal record and an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If this is your second BUI or DUI offense, you are also likely to receive a second-degree misdemeanor. However, the consequences will become harsher:
- A fine between $1,000 and $2,000.
- A greater chance of serving a 90-day prison service.
If this is your second offense within a 5 year period, the consequences will be harsher still. You will most likely face a mandatory 10-day jail sentence and a 30-day impoundment period of your vessel.
In the event that this is your second BUI or DUI charge and your blood alcohol level (BAC) was in excess of 0.15%, or if there were passengers on-board younger than 18, the consequences will be more severe. In this case, you are likely to receive:
- A fine between $2,000 and $4,000.
- A prison sentence of up to one year.
If you are being charged with a BUI or DUI offense for the third time, you will most likely receive a felony charge. The next section will explore the consequences of this further.
Felony-Level Repeat Boating Under the Influence Charges
The chances of receiving a felony charge significantly increase if you are arrested for operating a vessel whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol three times. However, your punishment will depend on when these offenses occurred.
Being caught committing a BUI or DUI three times in a 10 year period will likely result in a third-degree felony charge. The punishment for this charge in Florida is:
- A prison sentence of up to 5 years.
- A fine of up to $5,000.
- A possible minimum jail sentence of 30 days.
If there is a gap of 10 years or more between this conviction and the last, you are likely to receive a criminal misdemeanor charge instead. In order to increase your chances of this, you should hire a criminal defense attorney with experience in representing criminal cases. The penalties for a criminal misdemeanor are:
- A 12-month prison sentence.
- A fine of between $2,000 and $5,000.
Plus, almost every third-time BUI or DUI conviction results in the impoundment of the vessel or vehicle for a 90 day period.
BUI Cases Resulting in Serious Injury
The chances are high that you will only receive a misdemeanor charge if your BUI incident only caused minor property damage or injuries. Hiring a law firm that specializes in criminal defense will increase ensure that you have the right representation to make this happen. However, if your intoxication caused serious injuries, you may face a third-degree felony charge.
Similar to repeat BUI felony offenses, you will face:
- A prison sentence of five years.
- A fine of up to $5,000.
For further information regarding levels of felony and misdemeanor charges, refer to Florida Statute 775.083. If you or a loved one is facing a felony BUI charge, you need the representation of a law firm with years of relevant criminal defense experience. Remember that it could mean the difference between prison and freedom. Contact The Law Place for a free consultation today.
The Consequences for BUI Manslaughter in Fort Myers, FL.
The loss of any human life is a tragedy, even when it is caused by an accident. The pain and suffering felt by the loved ones of a BUI victim is the reason that the penalties for manslaughter are so severe.
If you cooperate with the police, following instructions and legal protocol after your accident, you will be facing a second-degree felony as a result. The punishment for this charge is:
- A prison sentence of 15 years.
- A fine of $10,000.
It is important to note that this is a good outcome, and there are circumstances under which a more severe punishment will be given for BUI manslaughter charges.
Failing to provide sufficient help to the victim of the accident or knowingly obstructing the course of justice will put you at risk of facing a first-degree felony charge. One example of this would be a failure to report the accident to law enforcement when you are fully aware that it happened and that someone was injured.
The punishment for a first-degree felony BUI manslaughter charge is:
- A prison sentence of up to 30 years.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
It goes without saying that any prison sentence will change the course of your life. However, the longer the sentence, the harsher these effects will be. Your best chance of getting your charges reduced is by hiring a criminal defense lawyer that has experience in representing BUI cases in Fort Myers, FL.
At The Law Place, we have a team of lawyers who are committed to every case they work on, providing high-quality defenses and impartial legal advice every step of the way. Contact us today to see what options you have through our free consultation service.
Why Is It So Important to Avoid a Felony Charge in Florida?
As we have previously mentioned, any amount of time in prison could have devastating effects on your life, not to mention having to pay a large sum of money. However, there are a few particular ways in which a felony charge can change your future forever.
Misdemeanor charges can eventually be expunged or sealed from your record. Unfortunately, even the most skilled criminal defense attorney cannot make this happen for felony convictions. Therefore, your criminal record will always show your felony charge and will affect things like your employability and your chances of securing a bank loan.
It is also important to note that this will follow you outside of the state. Your criminal record will be accessible across the whole country.
What Are the Common Criminal Defense Strategies for Those Accused of a BUI?
Through their years of experience in representing clients facing BUI and DUI charges, the lawyers at The Law Place have a wealth of knowledge. They have been able to collect numerous possible defenses that they can tailor to suit your specific case. The Law Place strongly believes in ensuring that every case has a specially designed defense as every criminal defense case is unique.
It is not unusual, however, for lawyers to use common defense strategies and adapt them accordingly. Some successful BUI defenses are:
- Law enforcement officers stopped or searched your vessel unlawfully.
- Officers carried out an improper sobriety test. This is a common defense as there are many ways in which a sobriety test can be incorrectly administered, making the results inadmissible.
- The breathalyzing equipment used to measure your blood alcohol level was faulty.
Even if you feel like you are in a hopeless situation, a criminal defense lawyer can help you get your charges dropped or reduced. Do not give up without talking through your options with a member of our team. We are committed to ensuring that your life is affected as little as possible. Call us today and schedule a free consultation.
How Much Will Representation by The Law Place in Fort Myers, FL., Cost You?
Due to the unique and diverse nature of criminal defense cases, it is impossible to give you an accurate estimate through our website. The cost of our services will vary depending on numerous factors, including the extent of your charge and any previous convictions you have received.
Do not let this discourage you from contacting us. The cost of a felony conviction is even greater than the cost of a good lawyer. Not to mention the impact that it will have on your life if your charges are not reduced. You will not regret hiring good representation. In the end, it will pay for itself.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for operating a vessel whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Taking the time to ask questions and reading client testimonies will ensure that you choose the right attorney for your case. Do not trust a lawyer who cannot provide references or who has no experience in BUI defense cases. It is vital that you choose the right legal team to represent you.
The Law Place is exactly what you need! Our team has over 75 years of combined experience in fighting for the freedom of our clients. We have worked on many cases just like yours and have an in-depth knowledge of the Florida legal system. Together we will work to build you a strong defense that is tailor-made for your case.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation where you can get impartial and confidential legal advice. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so do not hesitate any longer. Contact us now at (941) 444-4444.