Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Defense Lawyer in Orlando, Florida (FL)

BUI Charges, Laws and Penalties in Orlando, Florida

Lawyers Defending Those Facing BUI Charges in Orlando, Florida

Numerous people take to the waters in Orlando, Florida given the state’s warm weather and sunny skies. In the United States, there are approximately twelve million registered boats, with several located in Florida. While boating can be both relaxing and fun, it can also be highly dangerous when drugs and/or alcohol are involved. Known as BUI, or boating under the influence, this offense constitutes a serious crime in Orlando, and police will vigorously pursue charges against those who choose to mix alcohol/drugs and boating.

If a person is being charged with BUI, it is essential that he or she hire a seasoned Orlando BUI defense attorney who can assist him or her in developing the strongest defense case possible. The highly skilled Orlando BUI defense lawyers at Musca Law are ready to help you now in terms of advising you of your legal rights and options. Don’t wait – call Musca Law now at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about how we can make a difference for you.

BUI in Orlando, Florida

It is illegal in Florida to operate a boat or some other vessel while intoxicated. An individual is guilty of BUI in Orlando, Florida if:

  • He or she has alcohol or drugs in his or her system which causes him or her to be impaired while operating a vessel; and
  • He or she is operating a vessel with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.

If a person meets these elements, he or she will be charged with BUI, which are prosecuted heavily in Orlando, Florida.

BUI Charges are Associated with Serious Legal Repercussions in Orlando

Under Florida Statutes Section 327.35(2), those who choose to mix boating and alcohol/drugs will face serious legal repercussions, including prison time and harsh monetary fines.

For a first time offender, the court has the discretion to impose a jail term of up to six months and a maximum monetary fine of $1,000.

For a second time offender, the maximum prison term is nine months and the maximum monetary fine is $2,000.

For a third time offender, he or she will face a potential prison term of five years and a monetary fine of up to $5,000 if the instant conviction occurred within a decade of a prior conviction. Should the subsequent conviction occur over ten years ago, the maximum prison term is twelve months. The offender will also be required to pay up to $5,000 in monetary fines.

If a person is convicted of BUI for four times or more will face 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 property damage, injuries or death, or who have minors on board, can face additional repercussions.

Punishment for BUIs Involving Property Damage or Physical Injury in Orlando

In Florida, if an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while engaging in boating, and causes property damage, injuries or death, the consequences are extremely severe. For instance, if a boater causes minor bodily injury or property damage while impaired, he or she will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries with it a maximum prison sentence of one year and 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 prison sentence of up to five years and a maximum monetary fine of $5,000.

If a death occurs while a boater is impaired by drugs or alcohol, it is typically charged as a second-degree felony, which carries with it a maximum prison term of fifteen years and a monetary fine of up to $10,000.

If a boater is impaired and chooses to flee the scene of the accident, he or she will face first-degree felony charges, which is associated with a prison term of up to 30 years and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000. The offender does not need to know that a person sustained injuries or died in the accident. He or she just needs to be aware, or should have been aware, that an accident happened and nonetheless chose to leave the scene of the crash.

When those Under Eighteen are Onboard a Boat Operated by an Impaired Boater in Orlando

In Orlando, Florida, the law provides that there are more severe consequences for boaters who operate a watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol when children (those under the age of eighteen) are present on the vessel at the time of the operator’s arrest. These repercussions include the following:

  • 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 (up to five years) 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 more severe, and are the same for a boater who is impaired with children located on board a vessel.

BUI and Underage Individuals in Orlando

When a minor (a child under the age of 18) is impaired while operating a vessel, the illegal breath alcohol concentration is 0.02% per volume. The reason why this is lower is to dissuade children from operating a boat while they have even the smallest amount of alcohol in their system.

Minors who have been convicted of BUI will be ordered by the judge to perform 50 hours of community service, and may also face jail time. The offender will also be ordered to complete a boating education course, as well as a four-hour class that is designed to educate minors convicted of BUI.

Until these steps have been followed, the minor offender will not be able to operate a boat.

Further Repercussions of a DUI in Orange County, Florida

There are further penalties that a court may impose on an individual convicted of BUI. These include the following:

  • Those facing a first-time BUI conviction may be forced to undergo probation for a maximum of twelve months and 50 hours of community service.
  • Those facing a second-time conviction that occurred within five years of a prior BUI conviction will be sent to prison for ten days.
  • Those facing a third-time conviction that occurred within a decade of a previous BUI conviction will face a prison term of 30 days.
  • The boat that is the subject of the BUI charge will be impounded or immobilized for 90 days.

Courses and Programs for Substance Abuse

When an individual receives a BUI conviction, the court typically orders the offender to attend a substance abuse treatment program. Said program may include a review of his or her substance abuse history and habits. The court may choose to order the offender to attend a residential treatment program or intensive outpatient treatment program. The offender must pay for his or her treatment out of his or her own pocket.

BUI Investigations in Orlando, Florida

A BUI investigation will occur after law enforcement determines that an individual is operating a boat in a way suggesting that he or she is impaired by alcohol or drugs. For example, the boat may be going at an excessive rate of speed or is being operated in a reckless manner. This can give law enforcement cause to conduct a stop of the boat and investigate the matter further. Witnesses may also report that a boat is being operated in a hazardous manner, which may lead law enforcement to conduct a stop and investigation.

Once an officer stops a boat, he or she may ask that the operator submit to a portable breath test. If the boater’s breath alcohol concentration, or BAC, is 0.08% or over, the officer has cause to arrest him or her. If the boater chooses not to submit to a breath test, the officer can request that the boater submit to a field sobriety test. Failing to submit to a breath test and/or field sobriety test may result in an arrest. If the suspect fails any of these tests, he or she will be placed under arrest and charged with BUI.

The “Operation” of a Boat under Florida Law

Passengers who are consuming alcohol on a boat will not be charged with a BUI as long as they are not operating the watercraft. Under Florida law, “operation” of a watercraft does not require that the individual be behind the wheel, as its definition includes an individual who has control or command of a boat. For example, it is possible for a person to be charged with a BUI if he or she is impaired while steering his or her boat as it is being towed.

The Release of a Suspect from Prison after Initially Being Arrested in Orlando

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 under the influence and has regained his or her faculties;
  • The suspect has been in jail for at least eight hours; or
  • The suspect’s BAC is less than 0.05% alcohol per volume.

Defenses to BUI in Orlando, Florida

There are several defenses that apply to a BUI charge in Florida, which a seasoned Orlando BUI defense attorney can raise on your behalf. These are as follows:

  • Police did not perform the tests in proper manner. A breathalyzer test must be conducted with machinery that has been properly calibrated. Moreover, a field sobriety test may not have been performed properly if the suspect sustained injuries or is disable, which can lead to skewed results.
  • The officer’s observations are unreliable. If law enforcement did not perform a breath or blood test, the charges will be based upon the officer’s observations, which may not be reliable. Sometimes people can appear to be impaired when they are actually not, which could be caused by an injury, disability, or some other valid reason.
  • The suspect was not the operator of the boat. As noted above, an operator must be in command or control of the boat. If the suspect was not operating the boat at the time of the stop, this defense may be raised.

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?

You will not lose your driver’s license if you get a BUI, as this only applies to boaters.

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 charged with BUI, how long will I be detained?

If a person is suspected of boating while impaired, he or she will be placed under arrest and kept in jail until their BAC is less than 0.05%, when they no longer visibly impaired by drugs or alcohol, or after eight hours have lapsed since the time he or she was placed under arrest.

What type of watercraft apply to BUI?

A watercraft that transports people on a waterway is a boat under Florida’s BUI laws. For instance, if a person is operating a jet ski while under the influence of alcohol, he or she will face BUI charges. Note that seaplanes are not subject to Florida’s BUI laws.

Will a passenger be arrested if he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

Passengers will not be charged with a BUI if they are under the influence, unless they are operating the vessel. Hence, the individual must be commanding or controlling the boat in order to be charged with BUI.

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 impaired by alcohol. An individual can face BUI charges even if they did not consume alcohol and may be under the influence of drugs (such as narcotics).

Musca Law’s Orlando BUI Defense Lawyers are Ready to Help you Now

If you are facing charges for boating under the influence, our Orlando 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 Orlando 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 (888) 484-5057 to schedule a complimentary consultation and to learn how our experienced Orlando BUI defense lawyers can fight for you.

Get your case started by calling us at (888) 484-5057 today!