The State of Florida, and especially Tampa, is well known for its boating scene, whether it be for recreational purposes, with many boating clubs along the waterfront, or industrial purposes, with Tampa Bay Port being in constant use. With the vast and varying quantity of boats and water vessels within Tampa Bay, it is no surprise that boating accidents occur, especially if someone is operating the vessel whilst boating under the influence (BUI). If you have been arrested for BUI, you must take the matter seriously as it is deemed a criminal offense, very similar to being caught for driving under the influence (DUI).
If you are facing charges for a BUI, you may be feeling overwhelmed and apprehensive. Florida law is complex and difficult to understand. Here at The Law Place, we have a wealth of experience when it comes to dealing with BUI cases, with high success rates of either reducing the charges or getting them cleared. A criminal defense lawyer will be able to review your case and advise you accordingly on how to proceed. A BUI conviction could affect you for life, and has potential knock-on effects, do not take the risk of facing it alone.
Here at The Law Place, we offer an initial free consultation where you can explain the situation to a lawyer. A BUI defense lawyer will then advise you on what they believe is the best course of action to take. With no commitments, it is up to you whether you wish to accept legal representation. To help you clarify the situation, why not call us today at (941) 444-4444.
What Does Boating Under the Influence Mean?
Under Florida Statute 327.35, it is illegal to drive a vessel if you are under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
The statute defines a vessel as a form of transportation that can be operated upon a body of water with the exception of seaplanes. You can be arrested and convicted with a BUI if you are caught driving a vessel in Tampa if you meet the below criteria:
- Your breath alcohol concentration (BAC) or blood alcohol level is at 0.08% or higher,
- Your normal functions have been impaired due to the influence of alcohol or drugs or both, and you would ultimately fail a field sobriety test.
If you cannot function normally due to alcohol or drugs, you will not be able to carry out tasks efficiently and safely. Your judgment and reaction time will be impaired, along with not being able to talk, walk, or operate cohesively. If a law enforcement officer believes that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then they can tow your boat to shore in order to carry out what is known as a field sobriety test. This test will assess whether you can function normally, for example, being able to walk in a straight line.
However, a field sobriety test is not completely accurate and cannot determine whether your BAC or blood alcohol level is over the limit. Due to this, the only way to get an accurate reading for a BUI is to have either a blood or urine test taken. Due to this, we highly advise that you seek legal representation as you may be wrongly or inaccurately accused.
For a free legal consultation with a felony bui lawyer serving Tampa, call 941-444-4444
Is BUI a Felony?
If you have been charged with a BUI for the first or even second time, then the charges will reflect those of a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. Yet, if you have been caught for the third time or are known as a repeat offender, the penalties will be a lot more severe. The reason for this is because a 3rd BUI conviction is classified as a third-degree felony. However, this is only if you were apprehended within 10 years of your prior conviction.
Also, other factors come into play when determining a BUI conviction. If you have been apprehended for a 4th time, making yourself a repeat offender, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. If the BUI arrest resulted in manslaughter, you could be charged with a second-degree or first-degree felony. This will also be based on the circumstances surrounding the case.
If you have been apprehended for BUI for the first time, it is rare that you will be charged with a felony except for in extreme circumstances. But, you could be convicted with a felony for having multiple BUI’s or if the outcomes of the BUI alter the conviction. In order to understand whether you could be convicted with a felony or a misdemeanor, we advise that you speak to an attorney who will explain this for you.
Tampa Felony BUI Lawyer Near Me 941-444-4444
What Happens if You Get a BUI in Tampa?
The factors surrounding your BUI case will, in turn, affect the seriousness of the penalties that you will receive. The outcomes and charges can vary based on whether the driver of the vessel:
- Already has a case record for BUI or driving under the influence (DUI).
- Their BAC or blood alcohol content was found to be extremely high.
- The BUI resulted in property damage, injury, or even death.
- Upon being apprehended for BUI, there were passengers on board that were under the age of 18.
Penalties for First-Offense BUI in Tampa
If you are being charged with a first-time BUI, you will most likely face a second-degree misdemeanor. The majority of first-time BUI’s in Florida are dealt with in this way. You will be fined between $500-$1,000 and be given a maximum jail time of 6 months if you are charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. If your criminal record is clear, it is rare that you will be sentenced to jail time, but this can be circumstantial.
A judge can rule a probation period, which cannot exceed more than a year, along with a prison sentence. If you face probation, it is compulsory to carry out 50 hours of community service or pay an additional $10 per hour of community service.
Depending on the case surrounding your BUI, the penalties can vary:
- You can be sentenced to 9 months in jail and be fined between $1,000-$2,000 if your BAC reading or alcohol concentration came back at 0.15% and above or there was a minor present in the vessel at the time of the arrest.
- You could be fined $1,000 and face five years of jail time if your BUI resulted in minor injuries or property damage.
- You could be sentenced to serve up to 5 fives in jail or fined $5,000 if the BUI caused an accident resulting in serious injury.
- If your BUI caused or contributed to the death of another person, this is considered a second-degree felony, and you could serve 15 years of jail time.
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Penalties for Second-Offense BUI in Tampa
You will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor if you have been apprehended for BUI in Tampa, Florida. The penalties entail a 90-day prison sentence along with a monetary fine between $1,000-$2,000. However, if this is your second offense within a time frame of five years of your first BUI or DUI conviction, then you will have to serve a compulsory ten-day prison sentence, and your vessel can be impounded for thirty days.
As with a first-offense BUI, the penalties will be more severe if your BAC levels come back at 0.15% or higher, or there was a minor present when you were apprehended by law enforcement. Due to this, you may serve up to twelve months in prison and be charged a fine between $2,000-$4,000.
Penalties for Third-Offense BUI in Tampa
The outcomes for being apprehended for a 3rd BUI will vary depending on whether you were caught within ten years of your prior BUI or DUI conviction.
You will most probably be charged with a third-degree felony if your BUI offense happened within ten years of the prior BUI or DUI offense. If this case, you will be charged with a monetary fine of up to $5,000 and be sentenced to five years in jail.
However, even if it is your third BUI or DUI, if it happened ten years or more from your previous conviction, it will be treated as a misdemeanor. The penalties are less severe; you will be fined between $2,000-$5,000 and can serve up to twelve months in jail.
Depending on the circumstances, the fines can vary. You will be fined a minimum of $4,000 if a minor was present at the time of arrest or your BAC level comes back at 0.15% or above. Further to that, any third-time BUI offenses will result in the vessel being impounded for a time frame of 90 days.
What Are the Penalties for BUI Manslaughter in Tampa?
If your BUI resulted in a boating accident, which caused the death of another person, this is considered manslaughter. This then reflects in the penalties that you will receive.
In Florida, you can be charged with a second-degree felony if your BUI offense resulted or contributed to the death of another person. For this offense, you will be sentenced to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and serve a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
However, it is possible to be convicted with a first-degree felony for committing manslaughter as a result of a BUI. You will be charged with a first-degree felony if you knew or were aware that the accident happened but failed to help or provide information about the accident. If you are charged with a first-degree felony, you will be convicted with a monetary fine of $10,000 and could face thirty years in jail.
Does a BUI Affect Your Driver’s License in Tampa?
If you have been charged with a BUI in Tampa, FL., you will be pleased to know that under Florida law, such a conviction does not result in the suspension of your driving license.
Despite this, if you are facing a BUI conviction, we highly recommend that you seek legal advice. As stated, the repercussions and penalties can be harsh and have a knock-on effect on your future. Your driving license may remain intact, but you will still have a criminal record, face prison, and be paying out substantial fines.
Here at The Law Place, we have a team of criminal defense lawyers that will review your case and weigh out the probabilities of the outcomes. You will be able to relax a little knowing that you have a highly qualified and experienced lawyer fighting your case. We will do whatever possible to either lessen the penalties or have them dropped altogether. However, this all depends on the circumstances surrounding the case.
Contact The Law Place Today in Tampa
If you or somebody you know is facing a conviction for boating under the influence (BUI) in Tampa, Florida, it is essential to act quickly, but calmly. This is why we advise contacting us here at The Law Place. The sooner you make contact, the quicker we can get to work on reviewing your case and creating a defense. This will aid you and us in reducing your penalties or having the charges dropped altogether.
If you have been apprehended by law enforcement in Tampa due to being under the influence of alcohol, you will require a BUI defense lawyer to help influence your case. Here at The Law Place, we excel in what we do, and customer satisfaction is our top priority. Our team will work around the clock to ensure that we reach a judgment that you are happy with. Upon initial contact, you can book in for a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers. This will give us some back story and help us in advising you on how best to proceed based on Florida law. We will give unbiased and honest legal advice. From here, it is up to you whether you wish for us to represent you in court.
If you are facing a BUI in the State of Florida, we are here to help. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For your free consultation in Tampa, call us at (941) 444-4444.