Boating Under the Influence Attorney
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
If you’ve been arrested for Boating Under the Influence or BUI in Pinellas County, Florida, then you need the support of an experienced Boating Under the Influence Defense Attorney to help minimize the penalties and save your future. The legal consequences without the help of a lawyer can have serious long-term effects on your life.
What is Boating Under the Influence?
Boating Under the Influence is when a boat or vessel is operated, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just like driving a car while intoxicated, operating a vessel while impaired is considered to be an extremely dangerous offense and is treated seriously by the State Attorney’s Office.
Top Rated Legal Defense in Pinellas County
St Petersburg Criminal Defense attorneys are familiar with BUI cases, as boating is common in Pinellas County and Florida has the most deaths from boating accidents in the U.S. per year. Sean McQuaid is highly rated and respected as one of Florida’s premiere Criminal Defense attorneys. Mr. McQuaid provides outstanding legal assistance to help protect your rights and fight for your future.
Sean McQuaid is an attorney and named partner at Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., which for over 60 years has been successfully fighting for clients in the Tampa Bay area. Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm.
What is considered BUI in Florida?
In Florida, the law states that a driver of a vessel can be convicted by:
- Having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.
- OR having consumed alcohol or drugs that have “affected the person to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.”
- For those under the age of 21, the limit is 0.02%
A vessel is defined as any “watercraft, barge, and airboat used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, other than a seaplane.” This includes waterskiing and jet skis. You can also be arrested even if you use a prescription medication if it impairs your ability to drive.
When can law enforcement stop you for tests?
Law officers must technically have a reason to stop you. However, law enforcement can get around this technicality by simple random stops to check equipment, safety devices or registration. These stops then provide officers a chance to analyze your alcohol and drug intake levels.
Once stopped, law enforcement has the right to do as you to perform sobriety exercises, chemical tests or blood, breath and urine tests.
Unjust BUI Arrests
Law enforcement makes a lot of mistakes in BUI investigations compared to other cases. This is typically due to officers being on the water who are not experienced in BUI investigations. We see this most commonly with officers from Fish & Wildlife (FWC).
We also see officers routinely give field sobriety tests while the individual is still on the boat rocking in the water. These types of mistakes can be very helpful in the defense of a case. Additionally, boating is often highly affected by wind, engine noise, currents and the weather; alcohol may not be the reason for the boat’s behavior. All of these areas are where a BUI Defense Lawyer can become extremely useful in fighting for your innocence.
Is BUI the same as DUI in Florida?
Although not the same offense, they are related to one another. That means, if you were previously convicted for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and later get arrested for BUI then it will be considered as a second offense. This works the same in reverse too. Having a second offense will result in more severe penalties.
What are the penalties for BUI in Florida?
Penalties for BUI offenses vary depending on various factors. The main factors are:
- If the person has had previous BUI or DUI convictions.
- The level of blood alcohol content (BAC)
- If there was a minor onboard the vessel
- If the BUI led to an accident that caused injury, death or property damage.
Penalties for First Offense BUI
- If there is a BAC of at least .15% or passenger under 19 years old:
Second-degree misdemeanor. Up to nine months jail time and a fine of between $1,000 and $2,000.
- An accident which causes property damage or injuries to another:
First-degree misdemeanor. Up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 fine.
- An accident causing serious injuries:
Third-degree felony. Up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 fine.
- An accident that involves a death:
First or second-degree felony. Up to 30 years prison sentence for a first-degree felony, or 15 years in prison for a second-degree felony. Potentially $10,000 fine.
What other consequences can a Boating Under the Influence offense bring?
In Florida, Boating Under the Influence convictions can severely affect your future. Criminal records, probation, fines, legal costs, community service, alcohol counseling courses and potentially incarceration are all possibilities.
A BUI Criminal Defense Attorney can help minimize these penalties to help your future remain as free as possible.
Why should you use a St Petersburg BUI Criminal Defense Attorney?
Florida is working hard to cut down the number of boating accidents, so BUIs are much more common. A Criminal Defense Lawyer can fight on your behalf to get the charge dismissed or reduced. A lawyer will handle all the paperwork and court appearances to protect your future.
It’s natural to have confusion or concerns surrounding your charges, but we can help you from start to finish. Contact Sean McQuaid from Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. for a free consultation today to fight for you.
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