In Florida, boat operators are subject to many rules and regulations similar to the operators of a car. This means that law enforcement can do things like pull your boat over and ask you to take a blood alcohol test while on the water. This can often happen unexpectedly, and there are numerous factors that could affect the outcome of the test and potential charges. If you need help fighting a BUI (boating under the influence) charge, contact a Tampa BUI lawyer today.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help make your life easier when fighting your BUI charge. Jeff Marshall has experience defending numerous clients in criminal defense, DUI, and drug possession cases. In many instances, he was able to recover a not-guilty verdict or reduce a potential felony to a misdemeanor to avoid excessive repercussions. Let the attorneys at Jeff Marshall Law provide a strategic plan to help with your case.
It is perfectly legal to have alcohol on a boat. Unlike in a car, having open containers of alcohol on a boat is legal. The people consuming the alcohol must be 21 or over. Even though alcohol is allowed on boats, the person or people operating the boat have specific rules about how much they can drink while on a boat.
Boating Under the Influence in Florida, or a BUI, is similar to a DUI in the sense that both address individuals who appear intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle. Both offenses are given when the driver tests above the legal alcohol limit, which is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol content). However, the two offenses have different penalties depending on how many times the individual has committed the crime:
BUIs also differ from DUIs when considering police intervention. In order for the police to pull a driver of a car over and require them to take a breathalyzer test, they must have some sort of reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence. However, police may regularly pull over boats to inspect safety equipment or check for licenses.
There are also differences in what might happen after refusing a breathalyzer test in a car versus on a boat. If an individual refuses a test in a car, your license will get suspended, and you get a first-degree misdemeanor if you refuse a second time. If the test is refused on a boat, there is a $500 fine but no suspension of your boating license. This does not apply if you are refusing a test after you have already committed a BUI.
There are some additional factors that can worsen the consequences of a BUI, including:
In these circumstances, the event is sometimes considered an “aggravated” BUI.
BUI charges should be taken seriously. They often include penalties that can affect your life and career, especially with a felony offense. An attorney can review your case and devise a defense strategy to try and lessen or remove the charges. BUIs can sometimes be more complicated than a traditional DUI case, so having an attorney with a background in BUIs can be helpful when trying to argue your case.
BUI charges can be difficult to evaluate. Sometimes, a dehydrated and tired boater out on the water all day might look intoxicated without evidence. With an experienced criminal defense attorney, a felony or misdemeanor BUI charge can sometimes be reduced to a civil infraction for “careless boating.” This results in fewer punishments. If a BUI charge is taken seriously, the risk of serious consequences can be reduced or, in some cases, eliminated altogether.
In order to be charged with a BUI, you must be one of the people in charge of operating the boat. If multiple people are operating or directing the course of the boat, then they might all be subject to BUI tests. People in charge of a boat are also liable for its operation for the entire time the boat is out on the water. This means that they are responsible for the boat even if they step away from the helm for any reason.
A: The exact punishment for a boating under the influence charge in Florida depends on how many times the event has occurred previously. Every occurrence results in fines and a range of jail time. There are also differences in sentencing for those who have committed three or more offenses within ten years of the first offense or ten years after the first offense. For additional details on your BUI, contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney today.
A: Driving a boat in Tampa, Florida requires a separate boating license that is different from a driver’s license. DUIs and BUIs are similar in that they are both used when the operator of a vehicle has a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above. That said, if your driver’s license is suspended due to a DUI, it might not be a good idea to drive a boat. For specific advice based on your unique situation, contact a Tampa DUI attorney.
A: Tampa boaters are charged with BUIs if their blood alcohol level is found to be higher than 0.08%. Depending on the amount of BUIs a driver has previously received, they might be arrested for anywhere between 6 months and 5 years in jail. This also typically includes probation as well as drug and alcohol training. Working with an attorney who is experienced with criminal defense might be able to help you reduce your sentence.
A: A BUI does not affect your driver’s license, but a BUI, especially a severe one, can lead to getting your boating privileges suspended. Some criteria that make BUIs more serious include boating with a 0.15% or higher blood alcohol level, repeat BUI offenses, BUIs with people under 18 on board, and a BUI that causes injury or damages personal property. To learn more about the penalties of a BUI, contact a Tampa BUI attorney.
BUI cases often have strict deadlines and time limits. Working with a DUI attorney can help your chances of your case succeeding before a judge or jury. Schedule a consultation with Jeff Marshall Law to see how they can help you with your BUI case. Working with Jeff Marshall Law gives you access to a talented legal team with a proven track record.