Is Boating Under the Influence (BUI) a Serious Crime in Florida?

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Is Boating Under the Influence (BUI) a Serious Crime in Florida?

view from the bow of a boat

Countless tourists flock to Florida’s coastlines to enjoy the sun and head for open waters. However, it’s not only those out of state enjoying the scenery; you’ll also find plenty of locals sailing the seas. Out on the water, you might think the laws are a little more relaxed, but just because you’re off the roads doesn’t mean your activities will stay off the books.

Boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious offense in the state. Those caught operating a boat while over the legal blood alcohol limit can expect to face harsh penalties, including fines, jail time, and a lengthy probationary period.

Let’s look at some of the punishments for a BUI in closer detail:

Florida’s BUI Penalties

In Florida, manning a vessel while intoxicated is a serious offense. The penalties for violating the law aren’t just harsh, but could affect you for the rest of your life. Ultimately, having a conviction on your criminal record can often make it difficult to find gainful employment, further your education, and even rent an apartment.

Here are some of the penalties you can expect to face if you are convicted for a BUI:

  • First Offense: You could spend up to six months behind bars and may be ordered to fork over $1,000 in fines.
  • Second Offense: A second conviction could result in a nine-month prison sentence and fines of up to $2,000.
  • Third Arrest within Ten Years of a Prior Offense: You could spend up to five years behind bars and might have to cover fines of up to $5,000.
  • Third Arrest More than Ten Years after a Prior Offense: You may be ordered to pay fines of up to $5,000 and could spend up to a year in jail.

Those convicted for boating under the influence in Florida will usually be placed on probation for up to a year after the conviction. As part of this probationary period, you may have to attend alcohol and drug counseling sessions, perform community service, and fulfill monthly reporting requirements. This probationary period is often longer for those convicted for a second, third, or subsequent offense.

In certain situations, your BUI may be elevated to an “aggravated” charge, resulting in stricter punishments than a typical BUI conviction. For example, if you caused an accident on the water while intoxicated, and this accident led to someone dying, you may be facing an aggravated charge.

With the risk of time behind bars, sky-high fines, and a tarnished criminal record, you should never take a boating under the influence charge lightly. Thankfully, you will have a chance to fight the charges and—if you are able to dismantle the prosecution’s case—have your penalties reduced or the case against you dismissed.

A skilled BUI attorney can help investigate the arrest, gather evidence, and build a compelling defense. He or she can also help guide you through proceedings so you can avoid mistakes that might otherwise turn a possible conviction into a foregone conclusion.

Discuss Your Case with Palm Beach Gardens BUI Attorney

Are you facing BUI charges? Turn to attorney Todd A. Kawecki to discuss your options. He can provide tenacious representation throughout proceedings, making sure your rights are protected from the first phone call until the final verdict. Reach out to us at 772-485-4500 or head over to our online contact form HERE to request a free case evaluation with a Florida DUI attorney.

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