Boating Under the Influence
Facing Charges of Boating Under the Influence
Florida is one of the top recreational boating states in America. We have many bodies of water as well as multiple rivers, lakes and inter-coastal waterways. A recreational boat is one of the prime pleasures and pastimes of living in our state. Operating a boat on water and not a motor vehicle on land does not negate the duty to drink responsibly while in control of any moving vehicle, including boats. Florida law enforcement will actively pursue and prosecute boating under the influence just as intently as driving under the influence. If convicted then the penalties provided under Florida State Statutes are quite similar to those for a DUI conviction.
One significant legal distinction is that an officer of the law must have reasonable cause to pull over or stop a motor vehicle. This does not hold true for BUI. The law allows officers to stop and board boats simply for the purpose of a safety inspection or to verify registration. One does not have to be boating recklessly or demonstrating impairment in order for the boat to be stopped, boarded and inspected. This puts you at heightened risk for arrest if you have been drinking while operating a boat.
Once aboard the officer can insist upon field sobriety tests. If refused then this can lead to an automatic assessment of a fine and often lead to being towed ashore for further testing. The standards for determining intoxication are the same as a DUI for blood alcohol content. If you test for a BAC of .08% or higher then you will be charged with boating under the influence. There are many possible defenses against this charge. The critical point in a case is at the inception of the case. It is extremely important that you immediately speak with an experienced and accomplished West Palm Beach DUI attorney. With years of successful experience behind us DiRenzo & Weick stands fully ready to aggressively defend your case and to ensure that your rights have fully been protected.
Penalties and Consequences of a Boating under the Influence (BUI) Conviction
The penalty will depend upon the extent of the offense, one’s prior criminal record and most importantly, if any property damage or bodily harm occurred. For a first offense the penalty be a $500 fine, but the court could order up to six months in jail. If this is a second or third offense within certain time limitations then a BUI can be treated as a felony. This would result in much steeper fines and possible years of imprisonment in a conviction. If a BUI involves the presence of a minor, bodily injury or a fatality then the consequences will include prison time if convicted.
You need strong, aggressive legal defense for BUI charges. Contact a West Palm Beach Boating under the Influence Attorney without delay.