What Happens If I’m Charged with a BUI in Florida?
With more than one thousand miles of beautiful coastline, Florida is a top destination for boaters from across the country. However, just because you’re in open water doesn’t mean it’s open season to do whatever you like—especially when it comes to drinking. In the state, it’s illegal to operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. If you’re caught violating these laws, you could face serious penalties including fines, jail time, and community service.
Fortunately, the outcome of your case isn’t set in stone. A skilled DUI lawyer may be able to attack your charges and—in some situations—have your penalties reduced or the case against you dismissed. In this article, we take a closer look at Florida’s BUI laws and the consequences you might face for boating under the influence.
What Are Florida’s BUI Laws?
In the state, it’s illegal to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The blood alcohol concentration limit (BAC) for boaters is the same as motorists, with those at the helm limited to less than 0.08% BAC.
If you are under age 21, you are not allowed to operate a boat with any alcohol in your system. Additionally, if an officer suspects that you are operating a boat under the influence of drugs—such as marijuana, ecstasy, or prescription medication—you could also be charged with a BUI.
What Are the Penalties for Boating under the Influence?
The state is strict on motorists caught driving while intoxicated, and those same harsh penalties extend beyond Florida’s beachfront. Those caught boating under the influence can face jail time, fines, and lengthy probationary periods. A BUI on your criminal record could also haunt you for years to come as you may struggle to rent an apartment, find a job, or further your education.
Let’s take a look at the penalties you might face for a BUI conviction:
- First Offense: If it’s your first conviction, you could face up to six months in jail and may be ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
- Second Offense: Another conviction could lead to a lengthy prison sentence of nine months in addition to a $2,000 fine.
- Third Offense within Ten Years of a Previous Offense: A third or subsequent conviction within ten years of a prior conviction could result in a five-year jail sentence and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Third Offense More than Ten Years after a Previous Offense: You could spend up to a year in jail and may be ordered to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 in fines.
Anyone convicted for a BUI in Florida will have to wait out a one-year probationary period. During your probation, you may be ordered to perform community service, fulfill monthly reporting requirements, and complete a series of alcohol and drug counseling sessions. Your probationary period could be extended if you are a repeat offender.
A BUI can have a long-term impact on your life, so it’s important to fight your charges while you still have a chance to do so. A skilled BUI attorney can investigate the arrest, gather the necessary evidence to help protect your rights, and represent you throughout proceedings.
Discuss Your Situation with a DUI Attorney in Stuart, Florida
Were you arrested for driving or boating under the influence? It may be in your best interests to discuss your case with an experienced Stuart DUI lawyer. Todd A. Kawecki is a former prosecutor who knows what it takes to achieve a favorable outcome. To request a free case review, dial 772-485-4500 or head over to our Online Contact Page.