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Boating Under the Influence Attorneys in St. Pete and Pinellas Park

Under Florida law, a vessel is defined as any “watercraft, barge, and airboat used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, other than a seaplane.” This includes boats, jet skis, and waterskis, among many other types of watercraft.

The driver of a vessel can be convicted by having a BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration) of 0.08% or higher – or – having consumed alcohol or drugs that have affected the person to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. The limit is lower for those under the age of 21. Importantly, a BUI arrest can be made even when prescription medications are the substance which has affected the driver.

What are the penalties for a BUI charge?

For a first time offender:

If there is a blood-alcohol level of at least .08% or a person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired: First-degree misdemeanor. Up to six months of jail time and a fine of between $500 and $1,000. 

An accident which causes property damage or injuries to another: First-degree misdemeanor. Up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 fine.

An accident causing serious injuries: Third-degree felony. Up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 fine.

An accident that involves a death: First or second-degree felony. Up to 30 years prison sentence for a first-degree felony, or 15 years in prison for a second-degree felony. Potentially $10,000 fine.

Factors include:

  • Previous convictions for BUI or DUI – if you previously had a DUI and now have a BUI, it will count as a second offense, which comes with more severe penalties
  • The level of blood alcohol content
  • If there was a minor on the vessel
  • If there was an accident causing property damage, injury, or death

How do I defend myself against a BUI charge? And, why is it important to get an attorney?

The first step is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can identify factors in your case that benefit you. The attorneys of Oldham & Delcamp will review your arrest for things such as poor test administration, low BAC, and highlight reasons the state should not charge you with such a severe crime. More importantly, the attorneys will work to have your charges dropped or reduced to a less severe crime so that you do not face severe penalties. Along with potential jail time and fines, you may face community service, probation, and the long-term consequences of having a misdemeanor or felony conviction such as reduced opportunities for housing and employment.

The BUI Criminal Defense Attorneys at Oldham & Delcamp are ready to guide you through the process of handling the charges you face – do not delay in seeking legal counsel when your future is on the line. Call us today for a consultation.

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