Boating Under the Influence
Living in coastal Florida provides us all access to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. It is hard to drive more than 5 minutes in the Tampa Bay area without seeing a beautiful body of water. Whether weekend or weekday, day or night, pleasure boaters and fishermen will be out on the water. With such an abundant source of water and fish, it is no surprise that boating is one of the official pastimes of St. Petersburg. Any boating trip, however, can turn dangerous when people fail to observe safety regulations or when alcohol is involved.
The government, whenever people want to have fun, always tries to get in the way. And the government never wastes an opportunity to heavily regulate and punish those who don’t strictly abide by their rules. That’s one of the reasons we have such stringent boating and fishing regulations, and why you might be subject to a random stop and search by a wandering Florida Fish and Wildlife patrol or even the Coast Guard. When approached by one of these law enforcement agencies, their primary purpose is usually to look for contraband like undersized fish or drugs. These agencies will also be looking out for signs of impairment by drugs or alcohol, and if you’ve been drinking out on the water, you may end up investigated for boating under the influence. If something like this has happened to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a skilled St. Petersburg BUI lawyer right away.Elements of Boating Under the Influence
The offense of boating under the influence is very similar to the much more common crime of DUI. The obvious difference being DUI punishes operation of a land based motor vehicle while under the influence while BUI punishes impaired operation of a boat or other watercraft. Florida Statute 327.35 states that a person is guilty of boating under the influence if he or she is operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances to the point their normal faculties are impaired. Just like with DUI, an officer who places you under arrest for BUI can request that you submit to a breath sample to determine your breath-alcohol content. A breath alcohol level of .08 is direct evidence that you are under the influence.
Boating under the influence investigations can be extremely different than a typical DUI arrest. For example, to investigate someone for a DUI, officers must first have some probable cause to come into contact with a driver. If the driver commits a traffic violation or is involved in an accident, police can make contact and begin an investigation. Police cannot simply pull someone over for no reason. Boaters do not carry with them quite the same protections. Law enforcement and military agencies like the Coast Guard that patrol our waters have a much broader legal mandate to stop and search boaters. Typically these agencies do not need probable cause to stop boaters and can usually stop boaters for a simple “safety check” to make sure the boat carries the proper number of life vests and other safety measures. The unique circumstances surrounding BUI investigations makes it all that more important to secure an experienced St. Petersburg BUI lawyer to aid in your defense.
Conviction for a BUI charge can result in significant penalties that you are sure to want to avoid. If you are found guilty of DUI you can face up to six months in jail along with mandatory probation and substance abuse counseling. First time offenders will also have to complete 50 community service hours. Unlike DUI offenses however, a BUI arrest will not result in any suspension of your drivers license.Speak to a Lawyer Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law have the experience and dedication you want in an attorney. We will work to secure the best possible result in your case. Speak with our attorneys today at 727.897.5413.