Florida considers boating under the influence just as serious an offense as driving under the influence (DUI) and prosecutes offenders just as aggressively. Marine Patrol officers constantly patrol the area, concentrating on drinking- and speed-related violations among the thousands of boaters who hit the Florida waterways.
Should officers stop your vessel and conclude you have been drinking, you will find yourself facing charges, impoundment, and serious penalties if convicted. Whether you live in the area or were just visiting, our boating under the influence lawyers in Sarasota, FL at Goldman Wetzel can help defend you against the charges.
Call 941-405-5193 to learn how we can help you navigate the legal process and fight for a positive outcome in your case.
Getting Charged with Boating Under the Influence in Sarasota
Florida has a zero-tolerance policy for intoxicated boat operators. Florida treats boating under the influence (BUI) much like DUI, except that officers have even more discretion when it comes to drinking on the water. For instance, you do not necessarily have to fail a breathalyzer test for the officer to charge you. If your behavior in any way indicates intoxication, an officer can still charge you with BUI even without a field or sobriety test.
According to Florida Statute § 327.35(1), there are two ways to establish BUI:
- Elevated BAC: Blowing a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more (or 0.02 or more if you are under 21) equals BUI in Florida.
- Impaired Faculties: When you are under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, and it affects you “to the extent that [your] normal faculties are impaired,” the also state considers it BUI.
Penalties for a BUI Conviction
The potential penalties for BUI depend on several factors, including:
- Whether you were excessively intoxicated, i.e., very high BAC;
- You have any prior BUIs or DUIs on your record;
- How long ago your last BUI/DUI occurred;
- Whether you had any minors aboard your vessel when you were allegedly intoxicated; and
- Whether you were in an accident while allegedly drunk and whether it involved property damage, injury, or death.
Regardless of the specifics, anyone charged with BUI — even a first-time offender involving no accidents — faces potential imprisonment and/or probation if convicted.
A first-time BUI can result in a sentence of up to six months of jail time, a year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. Penalties increase for second-time offenders, and the state may escalate the charges to a felony if you had two or more priors or caused injury or death in a BUI accident.
Ways to Defend Against BUI Charges
Our defense team has handled numerous BUI cases in Sarasota and surrounding areas over the years. We have developed a long list of defense strategies that effectively negate or mitigate all types of criminal offenses, from first-time BUIs to BUI manslaughter.
Approaches to BUI cases vary depending on the factors involved. You cannot use lack of probable cause as a defense (officers have the legal authority to stop and board a vessel at any time to check for licenses and adherence to safety regulations). However, there are plenty of valid defenses available, such as:
You Were Not The Operator Of The Vessel
It is not illegal to have alcohol aboard your boat, nor is it illegal for occupants to drink. If you were just an occupant on the boat and not the designated operator, the BUI is invalid.
You Were Not Under The Influence Of Alcohol Or A Controlled Substance
Various symptoms can mimic intoxication and could have affected the outcome of your sobriety test, such as dehydration, motion sickness, heat exhaustion, etc.
The BAC Results Were Inaccurate
Perhaps the breathalyzer was outdated or improperly calibrated, incorrectly administered, or defective.
When you work with Goldman Wetzel, our team will comb through the details of your case, brainstorm plausible approaches, and develop a hardy, comprehensive plan for your situation. Contact us today to get started.
Our BUI Attorneys Develop Powerful BUI Defense Strategies
There is a lot riding on the outcome of your BUI case, including your finances, freedom, vessel, future, and criminal record. Let our defense duo, attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel, help you successfully navigate the system.
Our attorneys work together on each case we accept, from serious felonies to misdemeanor BUIs. This gives you double the defense and a well-rounded foundation. We can provide the insight and staunch legal representation to properly exercise your rights and elect the most beneficial options during the legal process.
When you retain us, our BUI defense attorneys will:
- Discuss your case with you, listen to your take on the incident, and give you our initial professional impression;
- Investigate the facts and collect evidence;
- Create a plan of action and talk it over with you;
- Take the appropriate steps, such as present evidence at the first hearing that sways the court to drop the case, negotiate with the state for lesser charges/penalties, file applicable motions, etc.;
- Explain what to expect during the pre-hearing and hearing process;
- Accompany you to the hearing, coming fully prepared to push for the most favorable resolution.
Facing BUI Charges? Do Not Accept Defeat. Call Goldman Wetzel for Legal Help Now.
To learn more about your options after an arrest for BUI and how our Sarasota defense team may be of service, call 941-405-5193 and request a free consultation.