In the state of Florida, boating is a popular water sport. Venice is well-known for its boating scene, so the vast number of boats taking to the water every day is constantly increasing. Therefore, it is not surprising that more and more water accidents are occurring. One of the most frequent reasons for boat accidents is boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (BUI). The Florida laws that refer to BUI are very similar to those applied in driving under the influence (DUI) and should not be taken lightly.
When boating under the influence, you put the safety of other people enjoying the water activities at risk. As a BUI offender, you may face severe charges, including fines, time in jail, and community service. If your BUI resulted in an accident, this might have serious and sometimes even life-changing consequences, especially when your BUI is classified as a felony.
That is why seeking legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer is an important step. At The Law Place, we have a dedicated team of experienced criminal defense attorneys who will fight for your rights and help you at every stage of your case. They will advise you about your legal options and give you a detailed plan on how to proceed. Trust our law firm and become one of our clients. Call us today at (941) 444-4444!
How Is Boating Under the Influence Defined in Venice, FL.?
According to Florida Statute 327.35, boating under the influence, or BUI for short, is defined as operating a vessel on any waters while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In this definition, “operating” is defined as being in charge, in command, or controlling a vessel on any waters.
The law defines “vessel” as a means of transportation, such as boats, barges, watercraft, seaplanes, and other transport types that can be used on water.
A person can be convicted of BUI if they are found operating the vessel while having one of the following:
- The blood alcohol or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%. In practice, this means that you have .08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood in your body.
- Their normal faculties have been impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of those two.
What are the normal faculties, and who can assess if your faculties are at the “normal” level?
The term “normal faculties” is a broad term, but it has been defined precisely in Florida Statute 316.1934. In general, it refers to seeing, talking, hearing, walking, judging distances, and making other judgments. It also includes mental and physical acts of everyday life.
The person who can decide whether your normal faculties have been impaired or not is any law enforcement officer. If your behavior while operating a boat arouses suspicions, they may stop your boat. Then they will be able to assess your normal faculties by carrying out the field sobriety test. During the test, they might ask you, for example, to stand on one foot, touch your nose with the forefinger of each hand, or walk in the straight line. If you failed with this test, they may proceed with further investigation and accuse you of BUI.
However, it is a commonly known issue that the sobriety tests may be inaccurate. Deciding whether another’s person faculties impairment is very subjective and making a mistake is easy. A skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to bring the judgment of law enforcement into question, which could result in the dismissal of your charges.
Contact us today for a free consultation and get the support that you deserve. Our criminal defense lawyers will fight for your case to secure you the best outcome possible. At The Law Place, we are committed to a strong attorney-client relationship based on trust and understanding.
Is a BUI a Felony in Venice, Sarasota County?
If you are a first or second-time offender and your actions did not cause a serious accident, you will be facing a misdemeanor. If you have been caught with BUI for the third time, but your previous conviction happened to occur more than ten years ago, you will probably be also charged with a misdemeanor.
However, if you are a third-time offender with the last conviction within ten years, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. If you have been convicted with a BUI for the fourth time, it is automatically classified as a third-degree felony, regardless of the date of your prior offenses. In addition to that, you might be charged with a third-degree felony if your BUI led to an accident that caused serious bodily injury, which is more severe damage than common superficial injury.
The punishments become even more severe if your BUI caused an accident that resulted in another’s person death, which may be treated as manslaughter. In that case, you may be charged with a second or first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances.
If you are a serial offender, each subsequent offense may lead to more severe punishments.
Penalties for BUI in Venice, FL.
The charges for a BUI in Sarasota County, Florida, might differ depending on factors surrounding your case. The factors that may impact your case include:
- Whether the BUI contributed to an accident which resulted in property damage, personal injury, or death.
- Whether the boat operator was caught with excessively high breath alcohol or blood alcohol concentration (above 0.15%).
- Whether the vessel operator has a criminal record for prior BUI or DUI offenses.
- Whether a minor under the age of 18 was present in the vessel at the time of control.
First-time BUI Offense Penalties
If you have been convicted with a BUI for the first time, you will be facing a second-degree misdemeanor charge. This means paying fines of $500 to $1,000 and a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison.
You will also face obligatory probation. Probation includes up to 50 hours of community service. The total time of probation and your prison sentence cannot exceed 1 year. You should also expect the immobilization of your vessel for a maximum of 10 days.
In some circumstances, your charges may be enhanced. If you had an extensively high BAC or children under 18 years old present on your vessel when you were apprehended, your penalties would be increased. In this situation, you will be expected to pay between $1,000 and $2,000, and the time behind bars could be up to 9 months.
Second-time BUI Offense Penalties
For a second conviction, you will be facing a second-degree misdemeanor. For this offense, the amount required to pay ranges from $1,000 to $2,000. However, the potential jail sentence may be longer than for first-time offenders and could be up to 9 months.
If the officer caught you for a BUI within five years from the previous boating or driving under the influence conviction, you could serve a compulsory ten days in prison. Additionally, your boat will be immobilized for 30 days.
If you happened to have children on board or had an elevated blood alcohol concentration when stopped, your penalties will be more significant. In that case, you will likely pay between $2,0000 and $4,000, and your prison sentence may last up to 12 months.
Third-time BUI Offense Penalties
If this is your third offense, your previous convictions determine your punishment’s severity. The crucial thing is whether you have been convicted with a BUI or DUI within the last ten years.
If your previous conviction occurred more than ten years before the date of your last BUI or DUI, you could be facing a misdemeanor with minor charges. This results in fines between $2,000 and $4,000 and a jail sentence for a maximum of 12 months.
However, if your third conviction happened within ten years, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. The maximum required amount for this felony is $5,000.
Unfortunately, the potential prison sentence is more severe and could be up to 5 years.
All third-time offenders will be additionally punished by a 90-day vessel immobilization.
Enhanced penalties for minor presence and extensive BAC may bring a minimum fine of $4,000.
Fourth or any subsequent convictions
Fourth or any subsequent convictions are automatically classified as a felony of the third degree. The fines will be $2,000 to $5,000. The possible time in prison is up to 5 years.
If you faced any of the listed charges in Florida, you should seek legal advice from a criminal defense attorney. A trusted lawyer will evaluate your case and prepare a successful plan to reduce or eliminate your charges. Call our law firm today and get a free consultation for your case!
What Are the Penalties for BUI Manslaughter in Florida?
If your accident resulted in another’s person death, your charges could be significant, no matter how many times you were convicted before. The penalties for committing this crime are outlined in Florida Statute 327.35.
If your actions contributed towards a death, you could be charged with a second-degree felony, which results in a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years behind bars.
However, if you were aware that the accident occurred and knowingly failed to help, report the accident, or stop the vessel, you may be charged with committing manslaughter. This tragic incident is punishable with a first-degree felony. When found guilty, you may spend up to 30 years in prison and be expected to pay a fine of $10,000.
Does a BUI Affect Your Driver’s License in Venice, FL.?
In Venice, Sarasota County, you do not have to worry about a driver’s license suspension if you have been convicted with a BUI. BUI offenses will not affect your driver’s license.
You may be wondering whether you are still entitled to drive a boat after any DUI convictions in Florida. Fortunately, you will still be entitled to drive a boar. However, if you make a similar mistake in a boat, your previous conviction will result in more severe punishments. Remember that as a boat operator, you are responsible for the people in your surroundings. It includes people who are enjoying the water, but also your passengers.
When you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your faculties may be impaired, which translates into the quality of the driving of your boat and the rate of your reactions. Law enforcement officers could notice your suspicious behavior, and you may be caught even if your actions do not cause an accident.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding BUI charges, contact our Venice criminal defense lawyers. At The Law Place, we offer a free consultation for our clients so that you can get legal advice at no obligation.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me?
Being charged with a BUI may bring you a lot of stress. But having skilled and experienced lawyers on your side will help take some of the pressure off. With legal support, you are more likely to accomplish a successful outcome.
You should remember that a BUI is treated as a criminal offense, so law expertise from a criminal defense attorney is essential in your case. A criminal defense lawyer will conduct the investigation, review the evidence, and will fight for your case in court.
With legal help, you will be able to challenge the details of your case, which could significantly decrease your charges or eliminate them entirely.
Contact The Law Place for Free Consultation Today!
If you are facing BUI charges in Venice, Florida, request a free consultation from a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our law firm has over 75 years of combined experience in criminal defense law and other related practice areas.
We have been working with similar cases and successfully defended people charged with BUIs in Florida. Many of our lawyers are AVVO rated 10.0, which is the highest possible rating, so you can be assured that your case will be in competent hands. Our attorney-client relationship is based on trust, which we value the most in our work.
At The Law Place, we will offer you legal help at no cost. If you decide to proceed with us, we will prepare a solid and effective defensive strategy. All final costs will be outlined and presented to you so that you will not be left with any surprises.
Contact The Law Place for a free consultation anytime. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can choose the most convenient time. Call us at (941) 444-4444!