According to recent data, alcohol consumption continues to be a leading cause of boating accidents resulting in property damage in Florida. Florida law takes BUIs very seriously, as when people choose to operate a boat or any other water vessel whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the results can be devastating.
The charges associated with a BUI are similar to charges for a DUI (driving while under the influence). This is because any damage and injuries caused are similar to those of DUI accidents. A person operating a boat could crash into another vessel and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.
If you have been accused of causing property damage because you were boating under the influence, you are going to need adequate need legal representation, and The Law Place can help. Our team of criminal defense lawyers knows what it takes to reduce your charges, and we could even have your BUI charges dismissed with the right defense.
For more information about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Boating Under the Influence in Florida
A pleasant day of water recreation can take a tragic turn when alcohol is involved. The United States Coast Guard claims that alcohol is the “leading known contributing cause” of boating accidents. Since 2015, the State of Florida has had the highest number of boating accidents that involved alcohol in the country. In order to reduce injuries, deaths, and property damage, the Florida Legislature encourages one person on every boat to abstain from alcohol so that they have a “designated driver” who can safely operate the vessel.
Criminal and Civil Liability
In the State of Florida, boating under the influence (BUI) can result in both a criminal case and a civil liability lawsuit (personal injury lawsuit). Any person who operates a boat under the influence may be held liable for property damage and personal injury caused in a boating accident.
Many recreational boaters are surprised by how serious the charges are for a BUI. The law in Florida has strict criminal penalties for this crime, such as expensive fines and even jail time.
What Florida Law Says About Boating Under the Influence
According to Florida Statute 327.35, it is against the law in Florida to operate any water vessel with a breath or blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.
If you are found to be under the influence of alcohol, any chemical substance listed in Florida Statute 877.111, or any controlled substance listed under Florida Statute 893, to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired, you will be punished accordingly.
The definition of “operating a vehicle” according to this statute is anyone who is in charge of a water vessel whilst under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, they do not necessarily need to be found manually operating it at the time of their arrest. If they are found to be responsible for the vehicle, responsible for the safety of its passengers, commanding the vessel, or exercising control of the vehicle, they can be charged with boating under the influence.
Is a BUI the Same as a DUI in Florida?
Although these offenses are not the same, they are related to each other. For example, if you have been previously convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida and arrested some time after for boating under the influence, then it will be considered as a second offense according to state law. This works the same in reverse. Therefore, a second offense will result in more severe penalties for you. This is why it is so important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that will work to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call us for a free consultation to find out more.
Penalties for Boating Under the Influence Resulting in Property Damage in Venice
The criminal charges for boating under the influence resulting in property damage are as follows:
- A first-degree misdemeanor.
- Up to twelve months in jail.
- A fine of up to $1,000.
If your BUI resulted in an injury to another person, you could be charged with:
- A third-degree felony.
- Up to five years in federal prison.
- A fine of up to $5,000.
Your penalties could be increased if:
- Your BAC was found to be over .15 percent.
- You had children under the age of 18 onboard the vessel.
- You are a repeat offender.
If you are sentenced to jail, the court may rule that you are to serve all or part of your jail sentence in a residential drug or alcohol abuse treatment facility.
For more information about the criminal charges that you could be facing following a BUI arrest in Venice, call The Law Place for a free consultation with a qualified attorney.
The Impact of a Criminal Conviction in Venice
Like any criminal conviction in Florida, if you are successfully charged with boating under the influence, this conviction will result in a permanent criminal record. You are required to disclose any criminal convictions on most Florida job applications. Therefore, a BUI involving property damage charge has the ability to affect your future professional and educational opportunities.
A BUI criminal defense attorney from The Law Place can work to minimize these penalties to help protect your future and your freedom. If you need legal advice, get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation.
Potential Defenses to Boating Under the Influence Charges
Your defense strategy will be based on the circumstances of your BUI arrest, but it is likely that your criminal defense lawyer will question who was actually in charge of the boat and whether the field sobriety tests were accurate. Your lawyer may even uncover issues with the breath and blood testing.
Some of the most common defenses used to fight BUI charges in Florida include:
- The testing equipment that was used was not properly calibrated.
- The testing unit was faulty, and this resulted in false readings or test results.
- The equipment that was used for testing has a history of errors.
- Errors were made by the law enforcement officer/s during the arrest.
- The BAC testing was administered incorrectly.
The prosecution has the burden of proving to the court that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. To do this, they must establish some specific elements in a BUI case. For example, they must establish that the defendant was operating or was in control of a water vessel and that they were under the influence to the degree that it affected their ability to operate the vessel safely. An experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer from our law firm will closely examine the prosecutor’s case for any weaknesses in order to have your BUI charges reduced or dismissed. They may even be able to obtain an acquittal at trial.
Having an effective criminal defense is crucial for fighting BUI charges. Our BUI attorneys will thoroughly review your case and protect your legal rights. Call us today for a free consultation
Can I Refuse a Blood or Breath Test?
If an accident has occurred on the water and there has been some amount of property damage, an officer can ask you to take a blood or breath test as long as they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have been drinking whilst in charge of the boat. In theory, you can refuse this test, but we do not recommend this, as the officer may then turn your case over to the U.S. Coast Guard to be reviewed. According to Federal law, you can be issued a substantial fine for refusing to comply with the officer’s request for a breath test. This could be between $1,000 and $5,000. If you fail to pay the fine in a timely manner, the Coast Guard has the right to seize your vessel.
Steps to Take Following a Boating Accident in Venice
There are some simple things to can do to help your criminal defense lawyer following a BUI arrest that involved property damage:
- Take photos – If there is an accusation that you caused some property damage, take photographs of the alleged damage and the scene of the accident. This will help in the event that this evidence is lost or tampered with.
- Take witness details – If there were any witnesses to the boating accident, ask for their names and contact details so your attorney can contact them at a later date.
- Ask for a copy of the police report – The details taken, or not taken, by the arresting officer could be crucial to your defense.
- Comply with the requests of the officer – How you behaved at the time of the stop will be brought up in court and will say a lot about your character, and this could affect your sentencing.
- Take notes – Write the details of the stop and arrest down as soon as you can so you don’t forget any important details.
- Contact a lawyer – Before you make any further statements contact a lawyer immediately who can advise you on how to proceed.
The Law Place Is No Ordinary Law Firm
Our law firm is different from most in Florida. Our team of established attorneys combines their assets, knowledge, and experience for the benefit of our clients across the State of Florida. The attorneys on our team are all litigators, and they are always fine-tuning their advocacy skills for the benefit of our clients.
Our firm has more than 75 years of combined experience, and many of our attorneys have an AVVO rating of 10.0, which is the highest possible rating on the site. This rating is calculated by reviewing trial skills, awards, client reviews, and length of practice.
At The Law Place, we have handled a wide variety of different cases, and we have been there for our clients through their most difficult times, and we can do the same for you. Contact us today, and we can get started on your case.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer From The Law Place Can Help You
If you have been arrested for causing property damage whilst boating under the influence in Venice, Florida, you have a lot to lose. Not only could you be facing a permanent criminal record, but you could also be facing thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time. If you are successfully convicted, you could lose your boating and driving privileges.
A skilled attorney from The Law Place will conduct a thorough investigation into your BUI case. We will look at all of the evidence against you and build a solid defense strategy on your behalf.
When these events happen, it can be stressful and overwhelming. Let a qualified lawyer take over your case and take this burden away. Call us today for some free legal advice from a qualified lawyer.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
If you are arrested and charged with BUI in Venice, it is imperative for you to contact a BUI defense attorney in Florida as soon as possible. The penalties for boating under the influence of alcohol can be just as serious as drunk driving charges in Florida, so you will need the same level of legal representation.
At The Law Place, our lawyers understand that a BUI charge can have a serious impact on your life. We can help you fight your criminal charges and the potential penalties.
Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.