Boating Under the Influence in Florida – Multiple Convictions Mean Enhanced Penalties
A single charge of boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious matter in Florida. A one time conviction for BUI in Florida can be devastating. A single conviction can result in jail time, substantial fines, probation, and even the impoundment of a person’s vessel.
Now, factor in multiple BUI convictions. The picture grows worse. The fact of the matter is that drivers operating a watercraft in the State of Florida can receive multiple BUI convictions. There is no rule that states one BUI is the lifetime maximum for the intoxicated driver of a boat. Further, the fact of the matter is that multiple BUI convictions easily equate to enhanced penalties for the watercraft’s driver…and, these penalties can be quite severe.
If you have been arrested or charged with BUI, know that this is a serious offense that requires a skilled and experienced BUI defense attorney in your corner. The same is true, if not more important, when the issue involves multiple BUI charges. Don’t let a series of mistakes lead to catastrophic results for your future. Our firm is ready to assist you today. Just contact us and let us help.
Florida’s BUI Law
Florida’s BUI law is relatively straightforward. The driver of a boat commits a BUI when either his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher, or when the driver’s normal faculties are impaired due to intoxication. Keep in mind that “intoxication” is not limited to alcohol. An individual can be arrested and charged for a BUI where intoxication is the result of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medication.
Boating under the influence is prohibited on virtually any type of waterway or body of water in the State of Florida. This includes lakes and rivers, the ocean and Gulf of Mexico, and tributaries and inlets. Florida’s BUI laws also apply to virtually any type of common boat. This includes watercraft ranging from canoes and rowboats, to small fishing boats, to yachts.
What Happens With Multiple BUIs?
In Florida, the rule of law on this issue is simple. The penalties only increase with each additional BUI conviction that the driver of a boat receives. Assume we have a driver of a boat and he receives his first BUI conviction. The maximum possible penalties for this driver include a jail sentence of six months and a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.
Now, let’s assume this same driver received a second BUI conviction. The maximum possible penalties that this driver may face increase significantly. These penalties may include a jail sentence of nine months and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,000.
What about a third BUI conviction? Again, the maximum possible penalties increase. If the driver receives the third offense within 10 years of his prior offense, then the maximum penalties may include a jail sentence of five years and a fine of $5,000. If the driver receives the third offense outside of the 10 year window of a prior offense, then the maximum penalties may include a jail sentence of 12 months and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
Keep in mind that the above only describes jail sentences and fines. BUI convictions can easily result in further injuries and hardships. These may include probation, successful completion of substance abuse classes, community service, and the impoundment of a person’s watercraft. As with jail sentences and fines, penalties and hardships of this nature only increase with each additional BUI conviction that the driver of a boat receives.
Given the above information, one thing is very certain. BUI cases are serious matters that may lead to severe penalties. This is especially true if a person is facing a second or third BUI charge. If you have been charged with a BUI and you live in Sarasota, or must appear in a Sarasota County court, contact the BUI experts at Musca Law to handle your case. Our team of attorneys is highly experienced in BUI cases and passionate about ensuring that your freedom is protected. Contact us today and let us start building your defense.