If the Coast Guard, Marine Patrol, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or local police stop and board a vessel and suspect the operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can arrest the operator on the spot. And like driving under the influence (DUI), boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious criminal offense, punishable by fines, jail time, and community service.
If you are facing charges for BUI in Bradenton, FL, contact our boating under the influence lawyers in Bradenton, FL for assistance. We can explain what you are up against and how we can help you try to avoid jail time. Call Goldman Wetzel at 941-405-5193 for a free meeting with our BUI defense team today.
Goldman Wetzel Accepts BUI Cases in Bradenton
Our team of seasoned defense attorneys can help people facing all kinds of charges in Bradenton, including BUI. With decades of experience with both the defense and prosecution and a unique dual attorney approach to each case, we provide clients throughout Florida with the effective counsel and representation they need to navigate the justice system.
We can help with all types of BUI cases, including those that involve:
- A first-time BUI offense;
- Repeat BUI offenses;
- Property damage;
- Bodily injury;
- BUI manslaughter; and
- Other aggravating factors or additional charges.
Call us today to see if our firm is a good fit for your case. The consultation is free: 941-405-5193.
Florida’s Definition of Boating Under the Influence
Florida Statute § 327.35(1) provides that a vessel operator — the person in charge of the boat, regardless of whether he is at the helm when the officers stop to investigate — is guilty of boating under the influence when any of the following apply:
(a) The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any controlled substance “when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;”
(b) The person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more.
Note: Officers do not need probable cause to stop and board a boat. They have the right to stop and check any boater for registration and to enforce safety regulations at any time. If they see or suspect drugs or alcohol, they can perform breath, blood, and/or sobriety tests.
Penalties for BUI in Florida
The penalties you face for boating under the influence depend on the number of prior offenses you have, as well as whether there were any other factors:
- First BUI offense: Up to a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, one year of probation, and a 10-day vessel impoundment.
- Second BUI offense: Up to a $2,000 fine, nine months in jail, probation, and a 30-day vessel impoundment. If the defendant’s previous BUI conviction occurred less than five years prior, he also faces a mandatory 10-day jail sentence. [For the purposes of sentencing for BUI, previous DUIs count as a prior conviction.]
- Third BUI offense: Up to a $5,000 fine, a year in prison, and a 90-day vessel impoundment. If the defendant’s last BUI occurred less than 10 years prior, the state will automatically elevate the charges to a third-degree felony and enforce a mandatory 30-day jail sentence.
- Aggravating factors: Charges and penalties increase when the BUI involves property damage, injuries, or deaths. For example, if the defendant caused someone serious bodily injury, the prosecutor will charge him with a third-degree felony, which includes up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
In addition, any BUI conviction can mean at least 50 hours community service, drug/alcohol evaluation and treatment, and a permanent mark on your criminal record. Find out what you are up against and how to protect your best interests. Contact our BUI defense attorneys in Bradenton today.
How Goldman Wetzel Can Help Fight BUI Charges
Our defense team can help you with all aspects of your BUI case, from initial arrest until the case closes. We have substantial experience in both prosecution and defense, so we know how both sides operate and how to navigate the court system. When you enlist our help soon after the incident, we can attend the hearing and challenge any gaps or errors in evidence.
In some situations, we can even compel the judge or prosecutor to drop the case.
If the court schedules the case for a hearing, we can begin collecting information and developing a strong defense strategy. When applicable, we can file motions or present evidence that results in a dismissal or secure a plea bargain for lesser penalties. If the case goes to trial, we can try to persuade the judge to opt for probation over jail time or to forgo vessel impoundment if it would cause a hardship to a third party.
Free Consultation with a BUI Defense Attorney in Bradenton, FL
If you or your loved one is facing BUI charges, talk to one of our BUI defense attorneys about the case today.
Our team understands how damaging a BUI conviction can be. Rest assured, attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel will work diligently for the best possible outcome, given the factors of your case.