More people are boating today in Florida than ever before, and therefore the number of people convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) is constantly on the rise. A BUI conviction should not be taken lightly. Similar to driving under the influence (DUI) charges, the penalties that a person can expect for boating under the influence can be life-changing.
If you or someone you know are facing charges for boating under the influence in Tampa Bay, FL., it is in your best interest to seek the guidance and advice of a reputable BUI defense lawyer. At The Law Place, we have a team of skilled defense lawyers with a wealth of knowledge on the laws in Florida concerning boating under the influence. We will be able to help you to navigate the complex laws in Florida concerning BUI and fight our very hardest to defend your case. You should not have to suffer life-changing penalties because of one little mistake. Let us help you get your charges dropped or lessened.
Contact The Law Place today for a free consultation with one of our BUI defense lawyers if you have been caught boating under the influence in Tampa. In your free consultation, your BUI defense lawyer will examine your case to determine the best legal options available to you and answer any questions that you may have. The sooner you seek help, the better. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today at (941) 444-4444.
What Does Boating Under the Influence Mean?
The law in Florida clearly prohibits a person from operating a vessel if they are under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, as outlined under Florida Statute 327.35. Under the law, the term “vessel” is defined as all watercraft, barges, and airboats, other than seaplanes, that have the capability of transporting on the water. The statute outlines that a person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) if they are found operating a vessel while having either:
- Blood alcohol or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of or above .08%.
- Drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two, affecting them to such an extent that their normal faculties are impaired.
If a person is found operating a vessel while their normal faculties are impaired in Tampa Bay, this could mean that the person lacks the ability to see, walk, hear, talk, make judgments, judge distances, and normally perform the many physical and mental acts of daily life, according to Florida Statute 316.1934. It is important to understand that “normal faculties” is an incredibly broad term and, therefore, can be applied to many more actions. It is ultimately the judgment of the Tampa law enforcement officers to decide whether the normal faculties of a person are impaired.
We strongly advise that you seek the legal representation of a skilled boating under the influence (BUI) defense lawyer if you are facing BUI charges. Law enforcement officers in Tampa often make mistakes in their judgment calls. Deciding whether the faculties of a person are impaired is an incredibly difficult decision. Your BUI defense lawyer will be able to challenge the judgment call of the law enforcement officers in an attempt to get your BUI charges lessened or dropped.
For a free legal consultation with a boating under the influence lawyer serving Tampa, call 941-444-4444
What Happens if You Get a BUI in Florida?
The severity of the penalties that a person can receive following a boating under the influence (BUI) conviction in Tampa can depend on several factors. The penalties that an offender can face following a BUI conviction are determined by whether the vessel operator:
- Has previously received a boating under the influence (BUI) conviction or any driving under the influence (DUI) convictions.
- Was found to have an excessively high breath alcohol or blood alcohol concentration.
- Contributed to or caused an accident that involved injury, damage, or even death, as a result of their BUI.
- Had passengers under the age of 18 years old in the vessel at the time when they were caught boating under the influence.
First-Offense BUI Penalties
If you face a boating under the influence (BUI) conviction for the first time, you will likely face the penalties that are received for committing a second-degree misdemeanor. A BUI offender can therefore expect to face a fine worth between $500 to $1,000 and a maximum of six months of jail time. Florida judges are required to sentence first-time offenders to probation. Although, the total time that a judge sentences an offender to probation and jail cannot exceed one year. Additionally, the mandatory conditions of probation involve offenders completing 50 hours of community service and a ten-day immobilization or impoundment of the vessel operated by the offender.
However, the penalties for a first-time BUI conviction are significantly worse if any of the following are applicable:
- If the offender’s blood alcohol concentration was found to be at least .15% or a passenger under the age of 18 years old was present on the vessel, this would still likely be classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. However, an offender can expect to serve up to nine months of jail time and be faced with a fine worth between $1,000 and $2000.
- If BUI leads to an accident involving property damage or minor injuries to another person, this offense will now likely be classed as a first-degree misdemeanor. An offender can expect to serve one year in jail or a fine worth $1,000.
- If BUI leads to an accident involving a serious injury to another person, this offense will likely now be classed as a third-degree felony. A BUI offender can expect to face five years in jail or a fine worth $5,000.
- If BUI results in the death of another person, this could be classed as either a first or second-degree felony. For a first-degree felony, a BUI offender will likely face up to 30 years in prison. For a second-degree felony, a BUI offender will likely face up to 15 years in prison or a fine worth $10,000.
Second-Offense BUI Penalties
If you are caught boating under the influence for the second time in Tampa Bay, you will likely be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Consequently, you will more than likely face a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 and may have to serve up to nine months of jail time. If you are caught BUI for the second time within five years of a previous DUI or BUI offense, there is a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days that you will have to serve. Not only this, but a judge will order that your vessel must be immobilized or impounded for a period of 30 days.
If this is your second BUI offense and you are caught with a BAC of .15% or above or had a passenger present on your vessel under the age of 18 years old, you will more than likely face a fine in the region of $2,000 to $4,000 and have to serve up to 12 months in jail.
Third-Offense BUI Penalties
The penalties that a person will receive for their BUI conviction if it is their third offense will depend on whether they received their third BUI conviction within 10 years of one of their prior DUI or BUI convictions.
If it is discovered that it is the offender’s third BUI offense within 10 years of their prior offenses, it will be classed as a third-degree felony. Therefore, an offender can expect to serve five years in prison and face a fine worth $5,000. It is also required that the offender serves a minimum of 30 days in jail.
If the third conviction occurred more than 10 years after a prior DUI or BUI conviction, the offender would likely be charged with a misdemeanor. They can expect to serve up to 12 months in jail and face a fine between $2,000 and $5,000.
It is common for all offenders charged with their third BUI conviction to have their vessel immobilized or impounded for a period of 90 days. Not only this, but if the third-time offender had a passenger under the age of 18 years old present on their vessel or a BAC of .15% or above, the fine they will face for their BUI conviction will be a minimum of $4,000.
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Does a BUI Affect Your Driver’s License in Florida?
If you have been convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) in Tampa, FL., you may be relieved to know that a conviction for BUI does not result in your driver’s license being suspended.
Nevertheless, we would strongly recommend that you seek the guidance of a skilled BUI defense lawyer at The Law Place if you are facing a conviction for boating under the influence. As we have already established, the penalties for boating under the influence in Tampa are incredibly harsh. Therefore you must do all that you can to try and fight your conviction.
By seeking the legal representation of a BUI defense lawyer at The Law Place, you can be put at ease knowing that you will be giving yourself the best chance you have at getting your charges lessened or dropped. We strive for the very best outcomes for our clients and promise to not stop fighting until our clients are satisfied.
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Can You Drive a Boat With a DUI in Florida?
If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, you can still drive a boat. The law in Florida does not prevent DUI offenders from operating vessels.
However, if you have been charged with DUI and are planning on driving a boat, we would like to remind you that you can receive a conviction for boating under the influence (BUI) as easily as it was for you to get your DUI conviction. Never operate a vessel if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The penalties that follow a conviction of boating under the influence are incredibly severe, and they are simply not worth it.
If you have any further questions concerning the offense of BUI in Tampa, don’t hesitate to contact The Law Place today. One of our Tampa BUI defense lawyers will be able to answer any questions that you may have, as well as give you the legal advice you may be looking for.
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Defenses That a Lawyer Can Use Against Boating Under the Influence Charges
A Tampa BUI defense lawyer at The Law Place will be able to use the typical pretrial and trial defenses applicable to all criminal cases to fight your case. They will also be able to use specific defenses applicable only to boating under the influence charges. Some of the most common defenses include:
- Improper field sobriety tests – There are strict guidelines in Florida concerning the specific circumstances that law enforcement is required to issue field sobriety tests to suspects. Your Tampa BUI defense lawyer may be able to argue that you had a physical disability or injuries that would have consequently made the results of the tests unreliable. Your lawyer may also try to determine whether the officer who stopped your vessel was qualified to perform the field sobriety tests that were administered.
- Inaccurate breath results – Breathalyzer machines in Florida are notorious for producing inaccurate and inconsistent results. If your Tampa BUI defense lawyer can discover that the breath test was not administered correctly or if the machine was not adequately maintained, the breath test results will likely be thrown out. This is useful as one of the main pieces of evidence that the state holds against you may be dismissed, and this can greatly improve your chances of winning your case.
Contact The Law Place Today!
If you or someone you know are facing charges for boating under the influence in Tampa, it is critically important that you seek the help of a skilled defense lawyer immediately. The sooner that a defense lawyer can begin work on your case, the greater the chance you have of getting your charges lessened or dropped.
At The Law Place, we promise to fight as hard as we can to try and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. If you have any questions or think you may have a case, contact us today for a free case evaluation. One of our reputable BUI defense lawyers will be able to examine your case to then give you honest and unbiased legal advice on what your best legal options are. If you have been arrested for BUI, don’t waste another second and contact us now.
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to listen to your call. Call us now at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation.
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