Florida is one of the most popular boating locations in the United States. However, boat operators should be aware of the legal consequences that come with boating under the influence, particularly if a BUI accident resulted in the personal injury of another person.
BUI is against the law in Florida. So, if you’re caught boating or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in North Port, you could face serious consequences. In fact, Florida has some of the most severe DUI and BUI penalties in the United States, with any convictions remaining on your criminal record for 75 years. So, if you’re facing a BUI with injuries charge in North Port, you need to get into contact with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers here at The Law Place as soon as possible.
With over 75 years of combined experience in criminal defense across our law firm, you can be sure that you are in safe hands. Call today on (941) 444-4444 to receive legal advice from a licensed attorney about your BUI with injuries charge. Phone lines are open 24/7.
What Is Involved in a BUI Incident?
BUI stands for boating under the influence. It’s not against the law to drink alcohol whilst consuming alcohol. However, in North Port, Florida, it is illegal to operate any vehicle, including a boat, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or above.
According to Florida Statute 327.35, for someone to be charged with BUI, they need to have been:
- Operating or steering a boating vessel or boating vehicle.
- Found to have a BAC of 0.08% or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or a breath-alcohol level of 0.08% or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
- Or be under the influence of any controlled chemical substance.
- Judged to be impaired by alcohol or another controlled substance by a law enforcement officer.
A North Port law enforcement officer could judge you to be impaired whilst operating a vessel if they feel that your normal abilities have been affected by alcohol or drugs. This could include anything that would affect your ability to safely operate a boat, such as:
- Ability to make sound decisions or judgments.
- Cognition or mental function.
- Coordination or reaction times.
What Happens if I Cause a Serious Injury Through a BUI Accident?
If you have caused a serious injury to another person due to boating under the influence in North Port, Florida, under Florida Statute 327.30, you are required to:
- Remain at the scene of the crime.
- Comply with law enforcement officers, providing name, address, and identification of the vessel in question.
- Give immediate notice of the accident to the Division of Law Enforcement of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the county sheriff, or local police if no law enforcement is present.
- Take a breathalyzer test if a police officer requests one and suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Be subjected to a blood test to determine blood alcohol content as well as any other substances in your system.
In addition, anyone suspected of BUI in Florida can be arrested and detained for a fixed period. They will then be released providing that the following conditions are met:
- 8 hours have passed since the detainment.
- The person arrested for BUI has returned to their normal state – i.e., they are no longer intoxicated or considered impaired because of drugs or alcohol.
- They have a BAC of 0.05% or below.
Understanding Your Rights When It Comes to a BUI Charge
Above we explained what you are legally required to do if you are caught boating under the influence in North Port, Florida. However, you should also be aware of your rights in the event that you are questioned or detained by a police officer for BUI.
If you are arrested by a law enforcement agent, you will need to comply with their request for information. However, it is your Fifth Amendment privilege to avoid giving any information that directly implicates you. It is also your Sixth Amendment right to receive legal counsel.
In addition, police officers can request a blood test to determine BAC or the presence of chemical substances. However, according to Florida Statute 327.353, this blood test must be carried out by an authorized professional. Examples of suitable authorized professionals include:
- Certified paramedics.
- Registered nurse.
- Personnel authorized by a hospital to draw blood.
- An individual possessing a valid permit issued for this purpose.
Lastly, according to Florida Statute 327.352, if a police officer judges you to be impaired by drugs or alcohol but does not conduct a breath, urine, or blood test, you are allowed to request one, and they will need to comply.
What Does Florida Law Say About Personal Injury Caused by BUI?
BUI with injuries occurs when the operator of a boating vessel causes serious bodily injury to another person due to being under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or other controlled substances that impaired their ability to safely operate a vessel. This could be with a BAC of 0.08% or higher or because a police officer judged them to be impaired by drugs or alcohol.
According to Florida Statute 327.353, ‘serious bodily injury’ refers to any injury to a person which involves:
- Substantial risk of death as a result of physical harm.
- Serious disfigurement.
- Impairment of function to any body part or organ.
If you’ve recently been implicated in a case involving a BUI with injuries charge in North Port, it’s important to contact an experienced law firm for legal help and representation as soon as possible. The sooner after the incident you contact a lawyer, the stronger your case will be.
Personal Injury Law in North Port, FL.
Personal injury law in the United States is also called tort law. This type of law is designed to protect U.S. citizens should they become harmed due to someone else’s actions or failure to act.
If a personal injury charge has been filed against you for a crime involving BUI with injuries, it will need to be proved that you were liable for any damages or injuries, as well as determining the extent of the damages. If you are subsequently convicted of personal injury as a result of BUI, the level of compensation you will need to provide will then be decided in a court of law.
If you are facing personal injury charges because of a BUI incident, you should contact a personal injury attorney to support you through the process and achieve a favorable result.
Penalties for Personal Injury Caused by Boating Under the Influence
A BUI incident resulting in the personal injury of another person is classed as a third-degree felony in North Port, Florida. Whilst the exact penalty for BUI resulting in personal injury varies from case to case, someone facing BUI charges could face:
- Up to 5 years of jail time.
- A fine of up to $5,000.
- Mandatory minimum probation for 1 year. This may include monthly reporting to a probation officer and substance misuse counseling or treatment.
- Community service.
However, there are circumstances that can cause more severe penalties, leading to an aggravated BUI conviction. Other factors which affect the severity of penalties for boating under the influence include:
- Whether the boat was being operated by a minor or if there was a minor on-board.
- The extent to which the boat operator was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- How high the BAC of the driver was at the time of the incident.
- Whether the defendant had any previous convictions for boating under the influence.
- Whether the defendant had any other convictions, not including BUI, or if this was their first offense.
- How severely injured the victim became as a result of the accident.
- Whether the victim subsequently died from their injuries.
- Whether the defendant cooperated and complied with law enforcement officers at the scene of the incident.
- If any property was damaged as a result of the BUI incident.
Without proper legal representation and advice from a criminal defense attorney, you could receive the worst possible outcome when it comes to a Florida BUI conviction. So, regardless of your exact circumstances, you’ll need a dedicated North Port lawyer to defend your rights and safeguard your future.
How Might a Defense Attorney Defend Me in Court for a BUI Charge?
Facing charges for BUI with personal injury can be intimidating. It’s true that the State of Florida has harsh penalties for DUI and BUI incidents. However, there are several ways in which our attorneys here at The Law Place could defend you in court.
In North Port, Florida, the burden of proof resides with the prosecution for BUI cases. Therefore, prosecutors will need to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the operator of the boat. After a boating accident, it can sometimes be difficult for police officers to determine who was actually driving or steering the vessel. It may be that the person implicated for BUI was not actually in control of the boat. Therefore, an attorney could choose to question whether police officers are certain that you were the person responsible for the vessel.
It may also be possible to reduce any BUI charges if you were not aware of your Fifth Amendment privilege to avoid giving self-incriminating evidence at the crime scene, as well as your Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel. This could be the case, for example, if police officers failed to recite the Miranda warnings adequately.
Lastly, a lawyer could question a police officer’s judgment. In the State of Florida, officers are allowed to conduct safety checks of anyone operating a boating vessel. They are also permitted to make arrests for BUI if they suspect that a boat operator has been impaired by drugs or alcohol. However, a lawyer could argue that these judgments were inaccurate and question whether the defendant was above the BAC legal limit.
Free Consultation With a North Port Criminal Defense Lawyer at The Law Place
Being charged with BUI in Florida is a serious offense, especially if personal injury is involved. If you or someone you know has been involved in a boating accident whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s important to seek legal counsel immediately. The longer after an accident you wait, the less likely it is that you’ll achieve a favorable outcome, and of course, without any legal help at all, you could be stuck with some harsh, life-altering penalties.
Here at The Law Place, we have some of the top criminal defense attorneys serving North Port, Florida. With 75 years of experience across our law firm, we’re here to give you support and peace of mind, whatever criminal charges you’re facing. We have a dedicated team with a wide range of experience. Together we can work with you to fight your charges and safeguard your future.
If you’re facing a BUI or DUI criminal charge, with or without personal injury, contact us to schedule a free consultation with a free case evaluation. Here at The Law Place, we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take your call. So, call today on (941) 444-4444.