If you are drinking while boating, you are doing nothing illegal, however if you drink to the point your BAC is over the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent, and you cause an accident, you could be in serious trouble. Unfortunately, a fair amount of alcohol consumption accompanies boating, as many people believe drinking and driving a boat is not as dangerous as drinking and driving an automobile. In fact, operating a boat requires as much, if not more, focus than operating an automobile. Further, if a boat operator is consuming alcohol, weather conditions and sea sickness can affect the boater to a greater degree.
Since Florida regularly stays in the number one spot as far as boating deaths per year, Florida laws are fairly severe when an impaired boater causes an accident which results in serious injury or death to another person. If you should cause an accident as a result of your impairment, causing serious bodily injury or death to another person, you could be charged with Felony Boating Under the Influence (the felony degree will depend on the level of injury or whether a person died as a result of your impairment while driving a boat). You could be charged under Florida Statutes, Section 327.35(2)(b)(1), 327.35(2)(b)(3) or 327.35(3)(a)(b)(c)(2) as follows:
- You have been charged with a third BUI within 10 years of a prior conviction of BUI or a fourth BUI regardless of when the prior convictions were;
- You could be charged with a third-degree felony if you are convicted of boating under the influence which caused or contributed to another person’s serious bodily injury;
- You could be charged with a second-degree felony if you are convicted of boating under the influence which caused or contributed to the death of another person (BUI Manslaughter), and
- You could be charged with a first-degree felony if you are convicted of boating under the influence which caused or contributed to the death of another person, but has added elements. To be charged with BUI Manslaughter in the first-degree, you must have known—or should have known—that the accident occurred, yet you left the scene of the accident, failing to provide required information or render necessary aid.
Penalties Associated with Felony Boating Under the Influence
While your penalties, if convicted of Felony Boating Under the Influence, will depend on the circumstances surrounding your charges as well as your prior criminal history, you could face the following criminal penalties for the offense:
- Boating Under the Influence—third-degree—You could face up to five years in Florida state prison, if convicted.
- Boating Under the Influence—second-degree—You could face up to fifteen years in Florida state prison, if convicted.
- Boating Under the Influence—first-degree—You could face up to thirty years in Florida state prison, if convicted.
Minimum Jail Sentence for Felony Boating Under the Influence
If you are convicted of Felony Boating Under the Influence for a third or subsequent offense that happened within a 10 year period of a prior conviction for BUI, the court must sentence you to a minimum of thirty days in jail.
Alcohol Treatment in Lieu of a Prison Sentence
Under Florida law, the court may choose to allow you to serve a portion or all of your prison term in a residential alcoholism treatment program. If you spend time in such a treatment program, that time will count toward your original prison term.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
It can be a frightening, anxiety-producing situation to be arrested for felony BUI, knowing you contributed to another person’s injuries or death. At The Law Place, we understand that very often good people make one wrong choice or decision that can impact the remainder of their life. Our goal will be to minimize the consequences of your felony BUI charges to the extent possible. Contact The Law Place today at 941-444-4444 for experienced, knowledgeable legal representation.