Boating in Florida is more popular today than it ever has been before. Therefore, it is unsurprising that more people today are getting convicted for boating under the influence (BUI) than ever before in Florida. A BUI conviction, much like a Florida DUI conviction, is not something that should be taken lightly. The penalties that BUI offenders can face are very severe and sometimes even life-changing. It is incredibly important that you seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer if you or someone you know has been or is facing a conviction for BUI in Sarasota, FL.
At The Law Place, we have a team of highly skilled lawyers who have a wealth of experience working on BUI cases. Our law firm will be able to give you all the legal advice that you may be seeking. A criminal defense attorney at The Law Place will be able to use their knowledge to help you navigate through the complex laws in Florida concerning BUI. You do not have to accept your charge and face the life-changing penalties that are heading your way, especially if your offense is classified as a felony. Let a criminal defense attorney fight your case for you.
Contact us today for a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to look over your case and honestly advise you of what your best legal options are. An attorney-client relationship with our law firm is one of immense commitment and confidentiality. So, if you have been caught boating under the influence in Sarasota, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Call us at(941) 444-4444.
What Does Boating Under the Influence Mean?
In Sarasota, it is illegal for a person to operate a vessel if they are under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. This law is outlined under Florida Statute 327.35.
The law determines a “vessel” to include all barges, watercraft, airboats, or anything that can act as a form of transportation on the water, with the exception of seaplanes. A person can face a conviction of boating under the influence (BUI) if they are found to be operating a vessel on the water in Sarasota while having either:
- A blood alcohol or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or above.
- Alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two, affecting them to such a great extent that their normal faculties are impaired.
We are frequently asked by our clients what it means for a person to have their normal faculties impaired. The term “normal faculties” is incredibly broad and can be applied to a person performing a wide range of actions. Florida Statute 316.1934 highlights that a person who is seen to have their normal faculties impaired could be lacking the ability to talk, walk, see, make judgments, hear, judge distances, and to complete many of the simple mental and physical acts of daily life. Ultimately, it is the judgment of law enforcement officers to decide whether a person has their normal faculties impaired.
At The Law Place, we strongly advise that you seek the help and guidance of a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer if you are facing charges for BUI. Law enforcement officers in Sarasota do sometimes make mistakes in their judgment calls, and field sobriety tests are notorious for being inaccurate. Contact us today so that one of our defense lawyers can fight your case and win you the justice that you deserve. We promise to work as hard as we can for you to receive the best outcome possible, and we won’t give up until you are satisfied. An attorney-client relationship at The Law Place is one built on immense commitment and trust.
Is BUI a Felony?
If a person is facing a conviction for BUI and it is their first or second time committing the offense, it is likely that they will only be charged with a misdemeanor. However, a person who is caught committing the offense for the third time will face a much more severe punishment. That is because a third BUI conviction is classified as a third-degree felony if committed within ten years of the prior conviction.
A person who is caught committing the offense for the fourth time, regardless of when they commit the offense, will automatically be committing a third-degree felony. Furthermore, a BUI offender who has committed manslaughter can be charged with wither either a second-degree or first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of their case.
Therefore, if this is the first time you have been caught boating under the influence, it is highly likely that you won’t be charged with a felony. However, if you have any further questions concerning what the law in Florida classifies as felonies and what offenses are classified as misdemeanors, don’t hesitate to contact us today. One of our lawyers will happily answer any questions that you may have regarding your charges.
What Happens If You Get a BUI in Florida?
The severity of the penalties that you can expect to receive for a BUI conviction in Sarasota will depend on several factors. For example, the severity of the penalties that a person can expect to receive can depend on whether the operator of the vessel:
- Has previously received convictions for BUI or driving under the influence (DUI).
- Was found to have their breath alcohol or blood alcohol concentration excessively high.
- Contributed to or caused an accident that involved damage, injury, or even death as the result of their BUI.
- Had passengers aboard their vessel under 18 years of age at the time they were caught boating under the influence by law enforcement.
First-Offense BUI Penalties
If this is your first-time facing charges for BUI, you will likely be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Most first-time BUI convictions in Florida are charged this way. The penalties that a person can expect to receive for a second-degree misdemeanor include a fine between $500 and $1,000 and a maximum prison sentence of six months. However, if you have a clean criminal record with no previous convictions, it is unlikely that a judge will sentence you to prison for your first offense.
Additionally, judges in Florida are expected to sentence first-time offenders to probation. Furthermore, it is important to know that the total time a judge sentences an offender to probation and jail cannot exceed one year. The mandatory conditions of probation will involve you having to complete 50 hours’ worth of community service. You will also experience a ten-day immobilization or impoundment of the vessel that you were operating.
However, the penalties for a first-time offender can be significantly worse if any of the following apply to your case:
- Your blood alcohol concentration was found to be at least .15%, or you had a passenger on your vessel under the age of 18 years old. This is still a second-degree misdemeanor, but you can expect to face up to nine months in jail and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000.
- You were involved in an accident that caused property damage or minor injuries to another person. This would be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, and you can expect to serve up to one year in prison or a fine of $1,000.
- You were involved in an accident that caused serious injury to another person. For this, you can expect to face up to five years in jail or a fine of $5,000.
- You contributed towards or caused an accident that resulted in the death of another person. We will explain the penalties that a person can expect to face for manslaughter further on.
Second-Offense BUI Penalties
If this is the second time you have been caught BUI in Sarasota, you will likely be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. You will more than likely face a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 and face a prison sentence of up to 90 days. Although, if you have been caught committing your second offense within five years of your first boating under the influence conviction or a DUI conviction, you will likely face a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days. Also, a judge may order your vessel to be impounded or immobilized for 30 days.
Furthermore, you will face a stricter punishment if this is your second offense, you have been caught with a blood alcohol concentration of .15% or greater, or had a passenger under 18 years of age on your vessel at the time you were caught by law enforcement. In this case, you will face a greater fine of between $2,000 and $4,000, and you may have to serve up to 12 months of jail time.
Third-Offense BUI Penalties
The severity of the penalties that a person can expect to receive if they have been caught committing the offense for the third time will depend on whether they have been caught within 10 years of their previous BUI or DUI convictions.
If it is your third offense within 10 years of a prior offense, you will likely be charged with a third-degree felony. If this is the case, you can expect to serve up to five years in jail and receive a fine worth up to $5,000. It can also be required that you spend a minimum of 30 days in jail.
If this is your third charge of BUI, but you have received it more than 10 years after your previous charge, it is likely that you will be charged with a misdemeanor instead. You will more than likely receive a less severe punishment that involves serving up to 12 months in jail and a fine between $2,000 and $5,000.
In Florida, typically, all people charged with BUI for the third time will have their vessel immobilized or impounded for a period of 90 days. Additionally, if you are caught for the third time and have a blood alcohol concentration of .15% or had a passenger under the age of 18 years old on your vessel, the minimum fine that you will face is $4,000.
What Are the Penalties for BUI Manslaughter in Florida?
Manslaughter is an incredibly tragic offense and, therefore, the penalties that a person can expect to receive if they commit manslaughter are very severe.
In Florida, if you have been caught committing the offense of BUI and it caused or contributed towards the death of another person, you can expect to be charged with a second-degree felony. A felony in the second degree is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
It is also possible for a person to be charged with a felony in the first-degree for committing manslaughter as a result of their boating under the influence. To be charged with a first-degree felony, the operator of the vessel at the time of the accident will have known that the accident had occurred and been aware that a person was injured, yet failed to give any of their personal information or supply aid. A person who is charged with this offense can expect to face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Does a BUI Affect Your Driver’s License in Florida?
If you have been or are facing a conviction of BUI in Sarasota, you may be relieved to know that you will not have your driver’s license suspended as a result of your BUI conviction.
Regardless of this, our law firm strongly recommends that you seek the help of a reputable criminal defense lawyer if you are facing a conviction for BUI. As we have already highlighted, the consequences of a BUI conviction are incredibly severe and, therefore, you must do all that you can to fight your case. You may still have your driver’s license, but you will also want to avoid a hefty fine and the potential of years in prison.
Our criminal defense lawyers will be able to examine your case in a free consultation and give you all the legal advice that you may be seeking. By seeking the guidance of a defense lawyer at The Law Place, you will be putting yourself at ease, knowing that you are giving yourself the very best chance you have of getting your case dropped or lessened. We strive to achieve the very best outcome possible for our clients and won’t stop fighting until you are satisfied.
Can You Drive a Boat With a DUI in Florida?
If you have previously been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Sarasota, you may be pleased to know that it is completely legal for you to operate a vessel. The Florida Statutes do not state that DUI offenders cannot operate a vessel.
Although, if you have previously been charged with DUI and are planning on operating a vessel, we would like to remind you that getting charged with BUI is as easy as it was for you to be charged with DUI, if not easier. Never operate a vessel if you are intoxicated and under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as there is a great chance that you will be caught by law enforcement. We have already established that the punishments for BUI are very severe, so it paramount that you avoid receiving any charges. It is simply not worth the risk.
If you have any further questions concerning what a BUI conviction involves in Sarasota or how a DUI conviction can impact it, don’t hesitate to contact our office today. One of our criminal defense lawyers will be able to answer any questions that you may have.
Contact The Law Place Today!
If you or someone you may know is facing charges for boating under the influence (BUI) in Sarasota, you must act quickly and contact The Law Place as soon as possible. The sooner that one of our defense lawyers can begin work on building you a strong defense for your case, the greater the chances you have of getting your charges reduced or dropped entirely.
At The Law Place, we strive to achieve only the very best outcomes for our clients. We will work on your case as best as we can to ensure that we arrive at a settlement that you are satisfied with. When you contact us, you can schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers. In this consultation, your defense attorney will be able to examine your case and give you some honest and unbiased legal advice concerning what legal options are available to you. If you are facing charges for BUI, don’t waste another second. Contact us today, and we will help you make the best choices moving forward.
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to listen to your call. Call us at our Sarasota office today at (941) 444-4444.