Will I Go to Jail for Boating under the Influence (BUI) In Florida?
With millions of tourists flocking to Florida’s beaches to enjoy the sun and sail the sea, the state has imposed strict laws on those heading for open water. Just like getting behind the wheel, it’s illegal to operate a boat while over the legal blood alcohol limit. As such, if you’re caught boating under the influence, you can expect to face harsh penalties, including time behind bars.
However, a charge doesn’t mean you will be convicted. In fact, a skilled BUI defense attorney can investigate the arrest and gather evidence and develop defenses to fight the charges. Let’s take a look at common penalties for boating under the influence in the state:
Florida BUI Penalties
In the state, boating under the influence is a serious offense. Punishments aren’t just harsh, but could also have ramifications for years down the line. As such, while you could face jail time, this severe punishment often pales in comparison to a tarnished criminal record, which may make it near impossible to get an education, rent an apartment, or seek employment.
Here are some of the penalties you could face for a BUI conviction in Florida:
- First Offense: If you are convicted for boating under the influence, you could spend up to six months in jail and may have to pay $1,000 in fines.
- Second Offense: A subsequent conviction could net you up to nine months behind bars and a $2,000 fine.
- Third Offense within Ten Years of Prior Offense: If you’re convicted for a third or subsequent time, you may have to spend up to five years in jail and pay a fine of up to $5,000.
- Third Offense More than Ten Years after Prior Offense: If there was a significant period of time between your prior offense and most recent violation, you may have to pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000 and might spend up to a year behind bars.
All offenders convicted for a BUI in the state will be placed on probation for up to a year after the offense. As part of your probation, you will have to perform community service, attend drug and alcohol counselling sessions, and complete monthly reporting requirements. Keep in mind that this probationary period may be extended for serial offenders.
Under certain circumstances, your BUI could become “aggravated”, leading to harsher penalties than a typical arrest. For instance if you caused an accident that led to someone’s death, your blood alcohol levels were .15 or greater, or a minor was present on your vessel at the time of the incident, you could be facing aggravated BUI charges.
With the risk of jail time, fines, and a spoiled criminal record, you should never take a BUI charge lightly. Fortunately, you will have an opportunity to fight the charges and potentially have them reduced or even dismissed. A skilled criminal defense attorney will know how to attack the state’s case against you, gathering evidence and identifying mistakes during your arrest to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Schedule a Consultation with a Stuart, FL BUI Defense Attorney
If you were arrested for boating under the influence, turn to Todd A. Kawecki for guidance, advice, and representation. He can help fight for your rights by providing the tailored representation and personal service you deserve. Reach out to us at 772-485-4500 or switch to our online contact form HERE to lock in a free case review.