BUI Defense Lawyers in Tallahassee, Florida (FL)
Tallahassee is the capital city of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2018, the population was 193,551, making it the 7th-largest city in the U.S state of Florida, and the 126th-largest city in the United States.
Tallahassee offers several opportunities for fishing, boating, and the usage of other forms of watercraft. With the popularity of boating in Tallahassee, police customarily patrol the waters surrounding the city to ensure that boaters have the proper safety gear and a valid registration. Law enforcement is also in the lookout for those who operate a vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Florida, a boating under the influence, or BUI, charge is associated with severe consequences, including jail time, monetary fines, and more. Given that a BUI charge is serious in Tallahassee, an individual facing an accusation of BUI must act quickly to consult with a seasoned Tallahassee BUI defense attorney.
If you have been charged with BUI in Tallahassee, contact Musca Law today to learn more about your legal rights and options. Our aggressive and highly experienced BUI defense lawyers will develop the strongest defense possible in your case and work tirelessly to seek a reduction or dismissal of your charges. Contact us today at (888) 484-5057.
What You Should Know – Boating Under the Influence in Tallahassee
Several people in Tallahassee, including tourists, engage in boating while consuming drugs or alcohol. While it is not illegal to drink alcohol on a boat, it is unlawful to operate a watercraft while impaired. A boater may feel that his or her faculties are intact after drinking a few glasses of wine or having a couple of beers. However, even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect an individual’s ability to safely operate a boat, especially where weather and water conditions may be unpredictable. A boater’s best option is to play it safe and operate a watercraft without consuming alcohol or drugs.
BUI Laws in Leon County, Florida
According to Florida Statutes Section 327.35, it is illegal to operate a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person may be charged with BUI in Tallahassee if he or she meets the following criteria:
- He or she operated a vessel in Florida;
- He or she has a breath-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more;
- He or she has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more; and/or
- His or her normal faculties have been impaired due to drug or alcohol consumption.
In Tallahassee, an individual who has taken drugs or drank alcohol but whose normal faculties are not impaired will not be charged with BUI if his or her breath-alcohol or blood-alcohol concentrations are below 0.08%.
However, it is vital to be aware that Tallahassee law enforcement has significant discretion when stopping a boater suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As such, one should be aware that even the smallest amount of alcohol or drugs in one’s system can cause impairment, which may lead law enforcement to conclude that an accused’s normal faculties are negatively affected. This scenario can result in one’s arrest for BUI.
The Punishment Associated with a BUI in Tallahassee
When a person does not have a prior criminal record, he or she has a wide variety of opportunities, such as the ability to rent a suitable apartment, find gainful employment, or attend a university. These benefits can quickly diminish if a person is convicted of BUI. Even one BUI conviction can have serious consequences, much like the repercussions of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In Tallahassee, the penalties associated with a first or subsequent BUI conviction are as follows:
- First BUI conviction – a jail term of up to six months and a maximum monetary fine of $1,000.
- Second BUI conviction - a jail term of at least ten days and up to nine months, and a monetary fine of up to $2,000.
- Third BUI conviction – a jail term of up to five years if a person has a third BUI conviction within ten years of a second conviction. If the third conviction happens outside of the ten-year lookback period, then the offender will be sent to prison for up to one year and be forced to pay a monetary fine of up to $5,000.
Additional Penalties Associated with a Tallahassee BUI Conviction
In addition to monetary fines and imprisonment, any individual who is convicted of BUI in Tallahassee, irrespective of whether it is his or her first, second, third, or subsequent conviction, will be subject to probation that requires monthly reporting. For a first BUI conviction, the probationary period will not exceed one year. The timeframe for probation increases with each additional BUI conviction.
A person who has been convicted of BUI will also be required to complete 50 hours of community service, and may be forced to undergo substance abuse treatment at the offender’s own expense. Moreover, the watercraft involved in the BUI-related incident will be subject to impoundment for a certain period of time, which will increase with each subsequent BUI conviction.
Aggravated BUI Charges in Tallahassee
A BUI charge in Tallahassee may be subject to enhancement in certain cases. For instance, if an individual who is facing a BUI charge has previously been convicted of DUI or a drug-related crime, the prosecution can pursue an aggravated BUI charge. Moreover, if a boat operator’s breath-alcohol concentration is 0.15% or more, then he or she will also be subject to an aggravated BUI charge. An aggravated BUI charge may also be pursued if an impaired boater has children (those under the age of eighteen) onboard the watercraft at the time of the stop by law enforcement.
The Role of a Tallahassee BUI Defense Lawyer in BUI Cases
Florida law is extremely strict in terms of imposing penalties for BUI. Notwithstanding, some prosecutors are more zealous than others when seeking a BUI conviction. Accordingly, two cases that may be similar could have different outcomes due to who the prosecutor is and the competency of the accused’s Tallahassee BUI defense lawyer.
Undoubtedly, there are many highly skilled BUI defense lawyers located throughout the state of Florida. However, a lawyer who has a positive relationship with Florida prosecutors may have a better chance of obtaining a favorable result on behalf of the accused. After all, it is vital to hire an attorney who focuses his or her practice on criminal law. General practitioners, or those who handle cases spanning several different areas of law, may not have the experience necessary to appreciate the nuances associated with criminal law cases. As such, if you have been charged with BUI in Tallahassee, it is imperative that you work with a Florida BUI defense attorney who focuses his or her practice exclusively on criminal law.
At Musca Law, our seasoned team of Tallahassee BUI defense lawyers know the ins and outs of the courtroom, has a positive relationship with prosecutors throughout the state of Florida, and is highly familiar with the applicable law. Contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Boating Accidents Involving Drugs or Alcohol in Tallahassee
Boating accidents may result in physical injury, property damage, and even death. These types of accidents often occur, even without the involvement of drugs or alcohol. However, when an accident happens involving drugs or alcohol, the accused offender may be subject to harsh legal consequences should a conviction be secured. Specifically, the outcome of an individual’s case depends upon the amount of property damage and the level of severity of physical injuries that were sustained in the BUI-related accident. Without a doubt, the more severe the harm, the greater the resulting punishment will be.
For instance, if a BUI-related crash causes minor physical harm and/or property damage, the accused will be charged with a misdemeanor in the first degree, which is associated with a prison term of up to one year and a maximum monetary fine of $1,000. If a BUI-related accident results in serious injuries, the accused will face a third-degree felony charge, which is associated with a prison term of up to five years and a monetary fine not to exceed $5,000.
If an impaired boater causes a fatality, he or she will be charged with a second-degree felony, which is associated with a prison term of up to fifteen years and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000. If a boater who is impaired causes a deadly accident and fails to stop and render aid, he or she will be charged with a first-degree felony, which carries with it a prison term of up to 30 years and a maximum monetary fine of up to $10,000.
“Operating” a Vessel in Tallahassee Florida – Understanding its Meaning
In the state of Florida, law enforcement and the prosecution have a significant amount of discretion when pursuing BUI charges against an accused, which is different than a DUI case. For instance, to face a DUI charge in Florida, the prosecution must establish that the impaired individual was behind the wheel and in control of the vehicle when he or she was stopped by law enforcement. However, with a BUI in Florida, the prosecution may use other evidence to establish that the accused was the operator of the vessel. In other words, to succeed in a BUI case, the prosecution must prove that the accused was the operator of the watercraft. Keep in mind that unlike a DUI case, the individual does not need to be behind the wheel of a vessel to face BUI charges in Florida, as he or she can be deemed an operator simply by commanding the watercraft.
Oftentimes, in BUI cases, whether a person is the operator of the boat is often highly contested by the defense. When Tallahassee police pull over a boat, it may not be fully clear as to who is operating the vessel. As such, if an individual is charged with BUI and was not the operator of the vessel when he or she was stopped by law enforcement, he or she may seek a dismissal of the BUI charges that have been sought against him or her.
What Occurs After Being Arrested for a BUI in Tallahassee?
Under Florida law, police may detain an individual accused of BUI for a certain period of time, but not indefinitely. Specifically, an individual must be released from custody when one of the following occurs:
- Eight hours have gone by since the time of the arrest;
- The person has regained his or her normal faculties; or
- The person has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05% or less.
Law Enforcement is Afforded Wide Discretion in Tallahassee BUI Matters
Given the severity of BUI-related boating accidents, police heavily patrol the waters in and close to Tallahassee. As part of their responsibilities in this regard, police may stop a vessel in order to conduct a safety and registration check. This can be used as a pretext to probe further if a person is suspected of operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For instance, if a boater is stopped by Tallahassee police, the officer may conduct an investigation to determine if the individual is impaired by drugs or alcohol. In this case, the officer may ask that boater to take a breathalyzer and/or field sobriety test. Such conduct may appear to be unfair however, the law enables law enforcement to engage in such testing if they have a reasonable suspicion that the vessel’s operator is intoxicated or otherwise impaired by drugs.
Providing a Defense to a Tallahassee BUI Charge
Each individual who faces criminal charges in Tallahassee deserves the best defense strategy possible. After all, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual is guilty of BUI in Tallahassee. In order to do so, the prosecution must establish, through the submission of evidence to the court, that the accused was the operator of a watercraft while intoxicated or otherwise impaired by drugs.
Without a Tallahassee BUI defense lawyer, the suspect may be at risk for being convicted of BUI. However, with a highly skilled and experienced Tallahassee defense attorney, the accused may avail himself or herself of a number of different defenses to his or her BUI charges. A person’s criminal history will come into play when providing a defense to a BUI charge.
The most sought after defense to a BUI charge is that the accused was not the operator of the vessel when it was stopped by law enforcement. Specifically, the accused can assert that he or she was simply a passenger and not the operator. If the individual is able to establish this, then the charges will be dismissed by the prosecution.
Tallahassee BUI Defense Lawyers are Ready to Assist You Now
If you are facing BUI charges in Tallahassee, Florida, or anywhere else in the state, contact the seasoned Tallahassee defense lawyers at Musca Law today. For several decades, we have represented thousands of clients facing BUI charges in Florida, and have been able to secure a dismissal or reduction of charges in many BUI cases. Don’t wait to contact a seasoned Tallahassee BUI defense lawyer at Musca Law, as your life and liberty depend upon it. To schedule your free and completely confidential case consultation, you can contact us at (888) 484-5057.