Boating Under the Influence
Florida has over one thousand miles of coastline, significantly more than even California. With plenty of access to the ocean, it is no surprise that recreational boating and fishing are some of the most popular pastimes in our state. Like anything though, the government is constantly looking to ruin everybody’s fun. Both the Florida legislature and our federal government strive to regulate nearly everything that we do. In Florida, that strict regulation has extended to boating which is reflected in many of our laws.
Boating, much like operating a motor vehicle, is mostly a very safe activity. However, sometimes people have a lack of respect for the power of machines like boats and cars, resulting in dangerous situations. Boating, when done irresponsibly, can result in serious property damage, injuries and deaths. When alcohol is involved, poor decision making can be multiplied and sometimes has catastrophic results. If you’ve been charged with any criminal offense involving the use of a marine vessel, don’t hesitate to contact a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense lawyer right away.
One of the laws specifically designed to prevent and punish a lack of safety on the water is the criminal law prohibiting boating under the influence. The charge of boating under the influence is quite similar to the much more common offense of driving under the influence, but several important factors can make a difference in your case. Because the act of boating itself affects one’s inner ear causing seasickness and sea legs, boating under the influence investigations can be substantially different from DUIs.
Just like DUI, a person is presumed guilty of BUI if they provide a breath or blood alcohol sample that shows a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater. Drinking while boating is obviously a much more common and socially accepted activity than drinking and driving. Yet it is important to understand that the law prohibits the impaired operation of any sea vessel in the same way that it prohibits the impaired operation of a motor vehicle.
Because the act of boating usually affects the inner ear, traditional field sobriety exercises utilized in DUI cases don’t exactly translate to BUI investigations. In a DUI situation, officers will typically ask suspects to walk, heel touching toe down a line and to balance on one leg. Because the balance of boaters is already compromised, and such exercises are nearly impossible to do under those circumstances, the US coast guard has implemented exercises that are to be specifically used in BUI investigations. Because the investigations are unique, it is important to retain an experienced Clearwater criminal lawyer with specific experience defending clients in boating under the influence investigations.
BUI field sobriety exercises include several hand-eye coordination tasks. These exercises often seem extremely silly to onlookers. The exercises utilized during BUI investigations tend to be less reliable and provide less information to arresting officers than the traditional DUI exercises. For this reason, a skilled attorney can often review the evidence in your BUI case and effectively challenge the sufficiency of the evidence against you.
It is important to speak to a skilled Clearwater criminal lawyer if you have been charged with a BUI because of the sometimes strict penalties that come along with a conviction. A BUI is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first conviction. Defendants will also be ordered to pay a minimum $500 fine and to attend and complete a substance abuse course. Repeat offenders might be required to serve mandatory jail sentences and their charges could be upgraded to a felony.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience handling alcohol related criminal offenses. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. Call for a consultation today at 727.897.5413.