When people think of Florida, they usually imagine beautiful beach fronts and oceans. Water sports are a common activity for those who are in the county of Florida, with boating being one of the favorites. However, not many residents of Tampa realize that they can be charged for boating under the influence (BUI). A BUI is when you are caught operating a boat whilst under the influence, very much the same as driving under the influence (DUI). You can be apprehended for a BUI if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the consequences are almost the same as being charged for a DUI. But one of the main differences is that the ocean has many occupants, not just drivers but people carrying out various water sports, making it far riskier, with the chance of injuries being far greater.
Florida has the second-largest number of incidents that involve substance abuse-related boat accidents and the highest death rate for boating incidents. An astonishing one in three accidents were alcohol-related. Due to this, the State of Florida has implemented some harsh sentences for if you are caught driving a boat under the influence. The repercussions are always more severe if the accident has resulted in injury or, worst-case scenario, death.
As with driving a car, where it is illegal to drive if you are caught with levels of 0.08% or above, the same applies to boats. Depending on the circumstances of your BUI, you could face severe penalties, such as jail time, community service, boating ban, monetary fines, and other repercussions, as outlined in Florida Statute 327.35
If you have been charged with BUI that resulted in injury in the process, you will need the aid of a BUI defense attorney. For legal advice regarding BUI cases, call a lawyer on (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation. Our Tampa criminal defense lawyers will defend your rights.
Differences Between a DUI and a BUI in Tampa, FL.
There are repercussions for both DUI and BUI. If an officer thinks you are operating the boat under the influence of alcohol, they have the right to come on board or bring you ashore to carry out tests. As with a DUI stop, the officer can ask you to carry out sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests, urine samples, and/or a blood sample. A major difference between a BUI and a DUI is that you can refuse to take a BUI test without the worry of a driving suspension. But you will, in turn, receive a $500 fine. If you wish to challenge the fine, you will need to do so in a separate legal battle. Your lawyer will be able to advise you accordingly.
Another difference between a DUI and BUI is that the officer pulling you over in a car has to have probable cause to do so. But a patrol boat or police officer has the legal right to pull you over and carry out a search, and if suspicious, they can carry out sobriety tests in order to determine whether you have normal faculties. The reason that they have this legal right is because police are allowed onboard to carry out routine checks, such as validation of registration and permit. These are generic checks that can be legally carried out for no other reason. But, if you give the officer in question a reason to be suspicious that you are operating the boat under the influence, then they can apprehend you
In Florida, you are legally allowed to have a drink whilst operating a boat, with the breath alcohol (BAC) limit being 0.08%. But if an officer has a reason to believe that excessive alcohol consumption has taken place, then they can bring you back to the mainland or onto their boat to carry out tests. If the arrest occurred due to an accident that resulted in injury, then you will need to have a blood test to confirm whether you were under the influence, and if so, to what degree. Also, after the arrest, you can be asked to carry out a breathalyzer test and give a urine sample. All of these tests together will give an accurate reading of what your blood alcohol content is.
What Happens if You Get a BUI in Tampa, FL?
There are several factors that will be taken into consideration when determining the outcomes of a BUI arrest in Tampa. The charges will differ depending on the situation and severity of the charges and whether the person driving the boat falls under any of the below categories:
- Already has a record for a previous BUI or DUI.
- The results of the tests showed that the BAC or breath alcohol level was extremely high.
- When they were apprehended, there were passengers on board the boat under the age of 18.
- The BUI resulted in an accident that caused injury and or mortality.
Consequences for BUI That Resulted in Injury
The penalties and verdict for operating a boat under the influence, which resulted in injury, are as follows:
- A fine no less than $2,000 for a first conviction.
- A misdemeanor in the first degree for causing damages.
- A third-degree felony for causing serious bodily harm.
- Or you could be charged with manslaughter if the accident resulted in mortalities.
Furthermore, the penalties and repercussions can be more serious if you are a repeat offender. The court can rule whether it is more suitable for you to attend an alcohol and drug abuse program within a dedicated facility instead of facing imprisonment. BUI cases are already complex as a stand-alone case but become more complicated when it involves other injured parties. A skilled criminal defense attorney from The Law Place in Tampa has the know-how in dealing with BUI cases. They will be able to assist in understanding the complexities around BUI cases and Florida law whilst providing an attorney-client relationship built on trust.
What Are the Consequences for BUI Manslaughter in Tampa?
The consequences of manslaughter are horrendous, not only for the loved ones’ family but also for the person accused.
If a BUI accident resulted or contributed towards a death, under Florida law, you could be charged with a second-degree felony. If you are charged with a second-degree felony, you will be fined up to $10,000 and could face a prison sentence of up to fifteen years.
However, it is plausible to be charged with a first-degree felony for committing manslaughter whilst BUI. You will be charged with a first-degree felony if, when driving the boat, you were aware that you caused an accident resulting in injury but, in turn, failed to help or provide information. If your case involves such factors, then you will face a fine of $10,000 and up to thirty years of imprisonment.
Does a BUI Affect Your Driver’s License in Tampa, FL?
If you have been convicted of a BUI in Tampa, you will be pleased to know that it will not affect your driver’s license.
Despite this, a BUI is still a criminal offense that will require the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. As stated above, the outcomes of a BUI, especially when involving other parties that have been injured as of consequence, can be harsh. You will need an experienced attorney by your side. You may be happy to still have your driver’s license, but what use is it if you can no longer afford to run a car due to large fines or no longer have access to your vehicle because of time in prison.
If you are seeking legal advice, then you have come to the right place. Here at The Law Place, our criminal defense attorneys will review your case in an initial free consultation. In some cases, we will be able to get the charges dropped or at least lessened. This is all dependent on the factors surrounding your case. But one thing is for certain. We will work around the clock to help fight your battle.
Contact The Law Place Today!
If you have been charged with BUI in Tampa, Florida, the many factors influencing your case will determine the outcomes. An experienced attorney will be able to review the evidence to determine whether it holds up in court. Valid and concrete evidence is needed to prove whether your charges are fair. As breathalyzer tests do not always provide an accurate reading, your case could be dismissed. Also, field sobriety tests are to determine whether you have normal faculties but do not determine your BAC, and so are a flawed method that does not consider what a person could or could not do sober. Blood tests are far more accurate as they show blood alcohol content, which in turn will determine the severity of your penalties.
Having a legal record can have detrimental impacts on your future. A BUI is a criminal offense, and the consequences can be far worse than you may believe. If you are being charged with a Florida BUI, you will need a reputable attorney to fight your case. Our law firm based in Tampa has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to dealing with BUI cases and has a good reputation in terms of attorney-client relationships. If you wish for an attorney from The Law Place to represent your BUI case in Tampa, then do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation on (941) 444-4444.