Florida is well known for its sandy beach fronts and glistening bodies of water. The residents of Tampa often enjoy water sports, with boating being a favorite. However, it is still possible to be charged for something known as boating under the influence. This is the same as being apprehended for driving under the influence (DUI), but instead of driving a car, you are operating a boat. This can be categorized under alcohol or drug abuse, with the repercussions being very similar to that of a DUI charge. Yet, as the water can be occupied by people swimming, kayaking, jet-skiing, etc. there is a greater potential for damage.
The State of Florida has had to put in place some severe punishments for those apprehended operating a boat under the influence. This is because the nation has the 2nd highest number of cases involving alcohol-related boating incidents and the highest number of boating mortalities. The consequences will be far more severe if injury or property damage occurs because of a boating accident. It has been recorded that about one-third of boating incidents are caused by someone that is found guilty of boating under the influence.
The limit for consuming alcohol while operating a boat is the same as driving a car, meaning that it is against the law to operate a boat if you are found to be over the legal limit of 0.08%. Florida Statute 327.35 states that if you cause property damage as a result of a BUI, then you could face repercussions, such as a prison sentence, boating ban, community service, and fines.
If you are arrested for DUI whilst operating a boat, and you caused property damage in the process, you will require the assistance of a DUI defense attorney. Call us today and speak to an attorney at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation.
Comparison Between a DUI and a BUI in Tampa, FL.
Like a DUI charge, following a BUI, there will be subsequent consequences. If you are stopped because an officer believes you are operating a boat under the influence of a substance, then you will be asked to carry out either a urine sample, breathalyzer test, or have a blood sample taken. Unlike a DUI, you will not be suspended from driving if you refuse to take a test. But you will incur a fine of $500. This fine can be challenged in a separate court case to the one you are being charged for. This is something an attorney will be able to help you with.
For a police officer to pull you over whilst driving a car, they must have a valid reason for the stop. In comparison, a police office or patrol boat can legally stop you and come aboard to search the boat more easily. This includes various reasons, such as checking your permit, boat registration, or even the enforcement of fishing laws. This basically means that the police officer does not need to have an exact reason to come aboard. These are just general checks they can legally carry out. However, whilst onboard, they may become suspicious that you might be operating your boat whilst under the influence of alcohol or another substance.
If the officer believes you are driving over the limit, they will most likely tow your boat back to the mainland, where you will be required to carry out a field sobriety test. However, if an arrest has taken place following a DUI with property damage, you will most likely be subjected to having a blood sample taken. Further to that, upon arrest, you will be required to give a urine sample and have a breathalyzer test.
For a free legal consultation with a bui with property damage lawyer serving Tampa, call 941-444-4444
Consequences for Boating Under the Influence Resulting in Property Damage
The consequences and sentences for the drunk operation of a boat that resulted in property damage are the following:
- You will be fined between $500-$1,000 for a first conviction.
- Fines between $1,000-$2,000 for a second conviction.
- You could face imprisonment for up to 6 months for a first conviction.
- Imprisonment for up to 9 months following a second conviction.
However, if your blood alcohol content reading comes back at 0.15% or higher, or there were minors on the boat, you will be charged accordingly:
- You will be fined between $1,000-$2,000 for a first conviction.
- Fines between $2,000-$4,000 for a second conviction.
- You could face imprisonment for up to 9 months for a first conviction,
- Imprisonment for up to 12 months for a second conviction.
Also, the court can decide whether you face a jail sentencing or whether it would be more suitable for you to follow an alcohol and drug abuse program within a specialized facility. The charges and punishments become even more severe if you have a record for being a repeat offender. Cases involving drunk driving in county Florida will require a DUI defense attorney, especially if the case was a DUI with property damage.
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The conditions of your case following your boating under the influence arrest will affect the type of defense required. Similar to a DUI charge, the officer that apprehends you needs to provide a probable cause as to why they believed you were boating under the influence. If they do not have valid evidence, then the case and charges may be reduced. Also, upon being initially stopped, there could be a question as to who was operating the boat, meaning that the field sobriety test could be dismissed as invalid evidence if you weren’t driving. Furthermore, breathalyzer tests are not always accurate, which could work in your favor.
As with any arrest, the consequences can have a detrimental impact on your future. Having a criminal record can make it difficult to find work or be eligible for a mortgage etc. Do not think for one minute that being arrested for DUI or BUI isn’t a serious offense. The consequences can be far more severe than you believe, especially when the accident caused property damage or injury. We highly recommend that you seek advice from a skilled and reputable attorney in Tampa, Florida, as they will be able to provide you with legal advice.
Do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your BUI with property damage case. For a free consultation, call us on (941) 444-4444.