Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Defense Lawyer in New Port Richey, Florida (FL)
BUI Charges, Laws and Penalties in New Port Richey, Florida
Lawyers Defending Those Facing BUI Charges in New Port Richey, Florida
Thousands of people go boating each year in Florida given the state’s seemingly endless sunshine and warm weather. Overall, there are twelve million boats that are registered in the United States, with many located in Florida. While boating can be fun, it can also be highly dangerous when alcohol and drugs are added to the mix. Known as boating under the influence, or BUI, this is a serious crime in New Port Richey, Florida, and law enforcement will vigorously pursue charges against those who engage in this highly risky activity.
When a person is charged with BUI, it is critical that he or she work with a New Port Richey BUI defense lawyer who can develop the strongest defense case possible. The skilled New Port Richey BUI defense lawyers at Musca Law are ready to assist you now in launching a strong defense to your BUI charges. Contact Musca Law now to learn more about your legal rights and options.
BUI in New Port Richey, Florida
It is illegal in Florida to operate a boat or some other type of watercraft when impaired by drugs or alcohol. An individual is guilty of BUI in New Port Richey, Florida if:
- He or she has drugs or alcohol in his or her body while operating a watercraft, thereby impairing his or her ability to operate said watercraft in a safe manner; and
- He or she is operating a vessel with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.
If an individual is arrested after meeting these elements, then the accused will face BUI charges, which are very serious in New Port Richey, Florida.
BUI Charges are Associated with Serious Legal Repercussions in New Port Richey
Under Florida Statutes Section 327.35(2), those who are in violation of this law will face serious consequences, including jail time and harsh monetary fines.
For those who face a first time conviction, the court may impose a jail term of six months and a monetary fine of up to $1,000.
For a second conviction, the maximum about of prison time is nine months and a monetary fine of up to $2,000.
For a third conviction, the offender will face a prison term of up to five years and a monetary fine of up to $5,000 if the conviction happened within ten years of a prior conviction. Should the conviction have occurred over a decade ago, the maximum prison term is twelve months and the offender will be required to pay up to $5,000 in monetary fines.
If a person is convicted of BUI for four times or more will be charged with a third-degree felony, which is associated with a maximum of five years in jail and a monetary fine of up to $5,000.
Repeat offenses are not the only crimes associated with enhanced penalties. Those who are under the influence and cause injuries or death, or who have minors on board can face additional repercussions.
Punishment for BUIs Involving Property Damage or Physical Injury in Pasco County, Florida
Under Florida law, if a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while boating and causes a person to sustain injuries or death, the repercussions are more severe. Specifically, when a person is a first-time offender who causes minor bodily injury or property damage, he or she will face a first-degree misdemeanor charge and be required to pay a monetary fine of up to $1,000.
When a BUI involves serious injuries, the offense is charged as a third-degree felony, which carries with it a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum monetary fine of $5,000.
If a death occurs while a boat operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is charged as a second-degree felony, which is associated with a maximum prison sentence of fifteen years and a monetary fine of $10,000.
If a boater is impaired and causes an accident involving a fatality, and chooses to leave the scene of the crash, he or she will be charged with a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is associate with a term of imprisonment for up to 30 years and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000. The accused does not need to know that a person died or was injured. Conversely, he or she must be aware, or should have been aware, that an accident occurred, and chose to flee the scene anyway.
When those Under Eighteen are Onboard a Boat Operated by an Impaired Boater in New Port Richey
In Port Richey, Florida, the law dictates that there are more severe consequences for boaters who operate a watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol when minors are present on board. These repercussions include:
- A maximum monetary fine of $2,000 and a prison term of up to nine months for a first-time offender;
- A maximum monetary fine of $4,000 and a prison term of up to twelve months for a second-time offender; and
- A monetary fine of up to $4,000 and a term of imprisonment for a certain period of time depending upon whether this is the offender’s third offense, or if there are more than three offenses.
A BUI Involving a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.15% or More
When a person is boating with a blood alcohol level of 0.015% or more, the penalties will be enhanced. These penalties are the same as those involving a boater who is impaired with children on board a vessel.
BUI and Underage Individuals
When a minor (a child under the age of 18) is impaired and operating a vessel, the illegal breath alcohol concentration is 0.02% per volume. The reason why this is lower is to prevent children from operating a boat while they have even the slightest amount of alcohol in their system.
Those who have been convicted of BUI under the age of 21 will be ordered by a judge to engage in 50 hours of community service. He or she will also potentially face prison time. The underage offender will also be required to complete a boating education course, whether in person or online, as well as a four hour course that is designed for those who engage in boating under the influence. Until these steps have been followed, the offender will not be able to operate a vessel.
Further Repercussions of a DUI in New Port Richey
There are further penalties that a court may impose on an individual convicted of BUI. These include the following:
- Individuals who are facing a BUI conviction for the first time may be required to undergo probation for up to twelve months and community service for 50 hours.
- Individuals who have been convicted of BUI for a second time within five years of a previous BUI will be sentenced to ten days in jail.
- Individuals who are convicted of a third BUI within ten years of a previous BUI conviction will be sentenced to a prison term of 30 days.
- The boat involving the BUI will be impounded for a certain period of time.
Courses and Programs for Substance Abuse
When a person is convicted of BUI, the court will order the offender to attend a substance abuse treatment program. The program may include a review of his or her substance abuse history and habits. The court may also order the offender to complete a residential treatment program. The offender must bear the costs of all treatments ordered by the judge.
BUI Investigations in New Port Richey, Florida (FL)
Most BUI investigations occur after law enforcement determines that a person is operating a boat in a manner evincing that he or she is impaired by alcohol or drugs. The boat may be traveling at an excessive rate of speed or is being operated in a highly dangerous and/or reckless manner. This can lead to law enforcement to conduct a stop and investigation. Witnesses may contact law enforcement to report that a boat is being operated in a hazardous way, leading law enforcement to investigate the boat and its operator.
Once an officer conducts a stop of a boat, he or she may request its operator to submit to a portable breath test. In the event that the boater’s breath alcohol concentration, or BAC, is 0.08% or more, the officer has the authority to arrest him or her. If the boater refuses to submit to a breath test, the officer can ask him or her to undergo a field sobriety test. If the suspect fails this test, he or she will be placed under arrest and charged with BUI.
The “Operation” of a Boat under Florida Law
Passengers who are on a boat who are drinking may not face BUI charges, as to be charged with a BUI, a person must operate the vessel. The “operation” of a vessel does not necessarily require that the suspect be behind the wheel. The definition of operation includes an individual who has control or command of a boat. For instance, a BUI may be possible even if an impaired person is steering a boat as it is being towed.
The Release of a Suspect from Prison after Initially Being Arrested in New Port Richey
In Florida, a person who is arrested for BUI must be detained in jail until one of the following takes place:
- The suspect is no longer impaired and has regained his or her faculties;
- The suspect has been detained for a minimum of eight hours; or
- The suspect’s BAC is less than 0.05% alcohol per volume.
Defenses to BUI in New Port Richey
There are several defenses that apply to a BUI charge in Florida, which a seasoned New Port Richey BUI defense attorney can raise on your behalf.
These are as follows:
- Law enforcement did not properly perform the tests. Tests such as a Breathalyzer must be performed by machinery that is properly calibrated. Also, a field sobriety test may not be properly performed if a suspect is injured or disabled, thereby skewing the results.
- The officer’s observations are not reliable. If law enforcement does not perform a blood or breath test, the charges could be based upon his or her observations. There are several reasons why a person can appear to be impaired when they actually were not, such as injury, disability, or some other valid reason.
The FAQ for BUI Cases
Those facing BUI charges typically have a lot of questions about the implications. The most common questions that prospective and current clients ask are as follows:
If I get a BUI, will I lose my driver’s license?
No. If you receive a BUI, your motor vehicle driving privileges will not be affected.
If I refuse to take a breathalyzer test, what will happen?
If a person refuses to submit to a breath test, this can be used as evidence against the boater that he or she is under the influence of impairing substances. A refusal to submit to a breath test could mean that the person is asked to undergo further testing and/or he or she could be placed under arrest.
If I am suspected of boating while impaired, will I be arrested?
A person who is suspected of boating while impaired will be placed under arrest and kept in jail until a period of eight hours, when their BAC is less than 0.05%, or when they are no longer visibly impaired by alcohol or drugs.
What type of watercraft apply to BUI?
A watercraft that transports individuals on a waterway constitutes a boat or vessel under Florida’s BUI laws. For example, if a person operates a standard boat or jet ski while impaired, he or she will face BUI charges. Note that seaplanes are not considered vessels under Florida’s BUI law.
Will a passenger be arrested if he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
If you are a passenger on a vessel, you will not be charged with BUI if you are impaired by alcohol or drugs. In order for you to be charged with BUI, you have to be an operator of the vessel, which means that you are either controlling or commanding it.
If a BUI a felony or misdemeanor offense?
It depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. For example, if a person has several BUI convictions, or causes property damage, injury or death to another individual while impaired, felony charges may be sought by law enforcement. If a person is charged with a BUI that does not involve property damage, injury, or death, then the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor.
I am being accused of being impaired by drugs while operating a boat. Why am I getting charged with a BUI?
A BUI does not only apply to those who choose to operate a boat while intoxicated. A person can face BUI charges even if they are visibly impaired by drugs.
Musca Law’s New Port Richey’s BUI Defense Lawyers are Ready to Help you Now
If you are facing charges for boating under the influence, our New Port Richey defense attorneys are ready to help you launch the strongest defense case possible. The repercussions of a BUI charge can negatively impact a person’s life for years to come. That is why it is critical that you contact a seasoned New Port Richey BUI defense attorney who can help you fight for your legal rights and interests.
Contact Musca Law to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case. Call (727) 480-9675 to schedule a complimentary consultation and to learn how our experienced New Port Richey BUI defense lawyers can fight for you.
8520 Government Dr STE 5
New Port Richey, FL 34654
Phone: (727) 480-9675
Hours: Open now: Open 24 hours
788G+GQ New Port Richey, Florida