What Happens if I Get a BUI in Florida?
Boasting miles of sandy beaches, warm weather, and oceans teeming with marine life, Florida is a boating paradise. However, a fun day out at sea can quickly turn into a perfect storm of problems if you’re caught boating under the influence (BUI).
In the state, it’s illegal to operate a vessel if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08%. While you might think you can coast by undetected out in open waters, Florida’s oceans, rivers, and lakes are strictly policed. Bottom line: If you’re caught, you will face harsh penalties.
In this article, we take a closer look at the state’s BUI laws, penalties, and how an attorney might be able to help you fight the charges:
Florida BUI Penalties: What You Need to Know
Operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense and you can’t expect to escape with just a slap on the wrist—even if it’s only your first offense. In addition to the many penalties you are likely to face, a conviction will be entered into your criminal record forever which could make it difficult for you to find employment, rent a home, or further your education.
Punishments can vary drastically based on both the nature of your offense and whether you’re a first-time or serial offender:
- First Offense: If convicted for a first offense, you could face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
- 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: For a third arrest within ten years of a prior offense, you could face up to five years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
- Third Arrest More than Ten Years after a Prior Offense: If your third arrest occurs 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.
In addition to these penalties, those convicted for BUI in Florida are usually placed on probation for up to a year. During this probationary period you might have to attend alcohol and drug counseling sessions, perform community service, and fulfill monthly reporting requirements. The probationary period is often extended for those convicted for a second, third, or subsequent offense.
It’s important to note that in certain situations, a BUI charge may be elevated to an “aggravated” charge, resulting in stricter punishments. For example, if you caused an accident and injured someone while under the influence, you could face increased penalties.
With the threat of fines, jail time, and a blemish on your criminal record, it’s crucial that you do everything you can to fight the charges. Prevailing in court—with the right defense—could help you mitigate many of these penalties. In some situations, you may even be able to get the case against you dismissed.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense by investigating the accident, gathering evidence, and developing strategies to help dismantle the prosecution’s case. They will also ensure that your rights are protected from your first appearance until the final verdict.
Discuss Your Case with a Palm Beach Gardens DUI Lawyer
If you were arrested for boating under the influence, it’s important to understand that a conviction isn’t a foregone conclusion. Attorney Todd A. Kawecki is ready to help you fight the charges.
Todd can meet with you as part of a free consultation during which he can answer your questions, provide insight into what to expect in the days ahead, and discuss some of the ways he might help build your defense. Reach out to us at 772-485-4500 or swing by our contact page HERE to lock in a case assessment with a Florida DUI lawyer today.