BUI Defense Lawyers in West Palm Beach, Florida (FL)
West Palm Beach is a city in and the county seat of Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. It is located immediately to the west of the adjacent Palm Beach, which is situated on a barrier island across the Lake Worth Lagoon. West Palm Beach is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6.2 million people. West Palm Beach is home to the most publicized stretch of coast in Florida and it’s known for the consistent swells, beautiful beaches, warm weather, exotic locals, and an impressive party scene.
Accordingly, West Palm Beach offers ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and the usage of forms of watercraft. With the popularity of boating in West Palm Beach, law enforcement heavily patrol the waters to ensure that boaters have valid registrations and the legally required safety gear on board. Law enforcement also patrol the waters keeping an eye out for individuals who appear to be operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Florida, a boating under the influence, or BUI, charge is associated with various legal repercussions, including imprisonment, monetary fines, and more. Given that a BUI charge is serious in West Palm Beach, a person who has been accused of BUI must act quickly to consult with a seasoned West Palm Beach BUI defense lawyer.
If you are facing BUI charges in West Palm Beach, call Musca Law today to learn more about your legal rights and options. Our highly skilled BUI defense attorneys will set forth the strongest defense possible in your case and work aggressively in seeking a dismissal or reduction of your charges. Contact us today at (888) 484-5057.
What You Should Know – Boating Under the Influence in West Palm Beach
Several individuals in West Palm Beach, including tourists, engage in boating while consuming alcohol or drugs. While it is not unlawful to consume alcohol on a vessel, it is illegal to operate it while impaired. A boat operator may feel, after drinking alcohol (such as having a few beers) or taking drugs, that his or her faculties are still intact. However, even the minutest amount of drugs or alcohol in one’s system can affect a person’s judgment, reaction time, and coordination. These attributes are especially important when boating, as weather and water conditions can be unpredictable in West Palm Beach. A boater’s best option is to play it safe and operate a vessel without consuming drugs or alcohol.
BUI Laws in West Palm Beach County, Florida
Under Florida Statutes Section 327.35, it is unlawful to operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Specifically, a person may face BUI charges in West Palm Beach if he or she satisfies 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 West Palm Beach, a person who has consumed alcohol or drugs prior to boating but whose normal faculties are intact will not face BUI charges if his or her breath or blood-alcohol concentrations are below 0.08%.
Notwithstanding, it is important to be aware that West Palm Beach law enforcement has a significant amount of discretion when pulling over a boat due to the suspicion of drug or alcohol impairment. Accordingly, it is essential to understand that even the smallest amount of drugs or alcohol in one’s system can lead to significant impairment, which may cause an officer to conclude that the accused’s normal faculties are affected. This scenario can result in one’s arrest for BUI.
The Punishment Associated with a BUI in West Palm Beach
When a person does not have a criminal record, he or she was ample opportunities in life, such as the ability to attend college, obtain gainful employment, and rent a suitable apartment. These benefits can quickly fade if an individual is convicted of BUI. Even one BUI conviction can have severe repercussions, much like the consequences associated with driving a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
In West Palm Beach, 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 West Palm Beach BUI Conviction
In addition to monetary fines and imprisonment, any person who faces a BUI conviction in West Palm Beach, regardless of whether it is his or her first, second, third, or subsequent offense, will be subject to probation that requires reporting on a monthly basis. For a first BUI conviction, the probational period will be up to one year. The timeframe for probation will be enhanced with each subsequent BUI conviction in West Palm Beach.
An individual who is convicted of BUI will also be forced to complete 50 hours of community service, and may be ordered to attend substance abuse treatment, which is 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 West Palm Beach
A West Palm Beach BUI charge may be subject to enhancement in certain circumstances. For example, if a person who has been charged with BUI has previously been convicted of a drug-related offense or DUI (driving under the influence), the prosecution can seek aggravated BUI charges. In addition, if a boater’s breath-alcohol concentration is 0.15% or greater, then he or she will face an aggravated BUI charge. An aggravated BUI charge can also be sought by the prosecution if an impaired boater has minors (children under the age of eighteen) aboard the vessel at the time law enforcement stopped his or her boat.
The Role of a West Palm Beach BUI Defense Lawyer in BUI Cases
Florida law is extremely strict in terms of the penalties it imposes on those convicted of BUI. However, some prosecutors may pursue cases in a more aggressive fashion than others when seeking a conviction for BUI. As such, two cases that are similar could have different results due to the competency of the accused offender’s West Palm Beach BUI defense lawyer as well as the identity of the prosecutor.
Without a doubt, there are several highly seasoned BUI defense lawyers in Florida. Notwithstanding, a lawyer must have a positive relationship with a prosecutor in order to have the best chance of obtaining a favorable result on behalf of the accused. After all, it is critical to work with an attorney who has a special focus on criminal law. Those who are “all-purpose” lawyers, also known as general practitioners, may not have the experience in criminal law that is necessary to appreciate the nuances associated with criminal law cases. Accordingly, if you have been charged with a BUI in West Palm Beach, it is vital 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 West Palm Beach BUI defense attorneys is highly familiar with the ins and outs of the courtroom, has a positive relationship with prosecutors located throughout the state of Florida, and knowns 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 West Palm Beach
Accidents involving boats may cause property damage, physical injury, or even a fatality. These types of accidents often occur, even if drugs or alcohol were not involved. However, when a boating accident is caused by drug or alcohol impairment, the accused may be required to face serious consequences should a conviction be successful. Specifically, the outcome of an individual’s case is contingent upon the amount of property damage and the level of severity of physical injuries that were sustained in the BUI-related accident. Undoubtedly, the more severe the harm, the greater the penalties will be.
For example, if a boating accident involving alcohol or drug impairment results in minor physical harm or property damage, the accused will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which is associated with a prison term of no greater than a year and a maximum monetary fine of $1,000. If a BUI-related crash results in serious bodily injury, the accused will be charged with a third-degree felony, which is associated with a prison term of up to five years and a monetary fine of no greater than $5,000.
If a boater consumes alcohol or drugs and causes a fatal accident, he or she will be charged with BUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony that carries with it a prison term of up to fifteen years and a monetary fine of up to $10,000. If a boater who is impaired causes a fatal crash and fails to remain at the scene, he or she will be charged with a first-degree felony, which carries with it a term of imprisonment for up to 30 years and a maximum monetary fine of up to $10,000.
“Operating” a Vessel in West Palm Beach Florida – Understanding its Meaning
In Florida, the prosecution and law enforcement officials have a wide latitude of discretion when seeking BUI charges against an individual, which is different than in a DUI case. For example, to be charged with DUI in Florida, the prosecution must prove that the impaired individual was behind the wheel and in control of the automobile when he or she was pulled over by police. However, with a BUI in West Palm Beach, the prosecution may use other evidence to establish that the accused was the operator of the subject watercraft. Otherwise stated, to secure a BUI conviction, the prosecutor must prove that the accused was operating the vessel at the time of the stop. To “operate” a boat does not necessarily mean that an individual is behind the wheel, or in control of it. Simply commanding a boat can lead to a BUI conviction.
In West Palm Beach BUI cases, the defense often challenges the assertion that the individual was the operator of the subject vessel. When West Palm Beach officers stop a boat, it may not be fully apparent as to who is the vessel’s operator. 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 West Palm Beach?
Under Florida law, police may detain an individual accused of BUI for a certain timeframe however, it cannot be indefinite. Specifically, the suspect must be released from jail 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 West Palm Beach BUI Matters
Given the severe nature of BUI-related boating crashes, law enforcement regularly patrol the waters around West Palm Beach. As part of their duties in this regard, police may stop a vessel in order to conduct a registration and safety gear check. This can be used as a means to investigate further if law enforcement suspects that a boat operator is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
For example, if a boater is stopped by West Palm Beach police, the officer may probe further if he or she believes that alcohol or drugs are involved. In this instance, the officer may request that the boater submit to a breathalyzer and/or field sobriety test. Such conduct may seem to be unjust however, the law allows police to engage in such testing if they have a reasonable suspicion that the operator of the vessel is intoxicated or drug-impaired.
Providing a Defense to a West Palm Beach BUI Charge
Every person who is facing criminal charges in West Palm Beach deserves the strongest defense strategy allowable by law. After all, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual is guilty of BUI. In order to do so, the prosecution must establish with evidence that the suspect was intoxicated or impaired by drugs when pulled over by law enforcement.
Without a seasoned West Palm Beach defense attorney, a suspect may be at risk for a BUI conviction. However, with a seasoned West Palm Beach BUI defense attorney, the accused may avail himself or herself of a number of different defenses to his or her BUI charges.
The most popular defense to a BUI charge is that the suspect was not operating the boat when it was pulled over by law enforcement. Specifically, the accused can claim that he or she was a passenger, and not the operator, of the subject vessel. If the accused is able to establish this, then the charges will be dropped by the prosecution.
West Palm Beach BUI Defense Lawyers are Ready to Assist You Now
If you are facing BUI charges in West Palm Beach, Florida, or anywhere else in the state, contact the seasoned West Palm Beach 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 West Palm Beach 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.