Fort Myers, FL – Drunk driving laws technically cover the operation of any kind of motor vehicle, even if the laws vary slightly by state. Because boats have motors and the possibility of causing property damage and injuries, boating while intoxicated is illegal in every jurisdiction in the country, including Florida. A person who is charged with the crime of BUI will essentially face the same kinds of serious penalties as a drunk driver.
BUI charges and penalties
Anyone who is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating their boat will be charged with a crime called BUI, short for boating under the influence. The legal limit for a person’s blood or breath alcohol concentration is .08 while boating, the same as driving a car. Police officers are authorized to stop someone based on other offenses or their driving pattern, and start an investigation to determine if they believe the person is intoxicated by observing their appearance and behavior, or other evidence such as the presence of open containers of alcohol in the boat.
The penalties for boating under the influence are essentially the same as a DUI case given to a driver. These can include fines of between $500 and $1000, probation, community service hours, and a license suspension. These penalties can be increased if the defendant has prior BUI or DUI charges. There may also be felony BUI charges if the defendant caused significant property damage, injuries to other people, or fatalities. The suspect can have their boat temporarily impounded, and they will have to pay to get it back.
Defending against a BUI charge
Because these penalties are serious, anyone who has been charged will need to find a way to create a defense. Lawyers who are experienced in dealing with drunk driving and boating cases know how to look for gaps in the state’s evidence and certain improper procedures. If these mistakes are present, the defense lawyer can potentially have important parts of the state’s case excluded under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. constitution. Defense lawyers are also familiar with various court procedures such as negotiation with prosecutors, which can make a large difference in a person’s sentence. In some cases, the defense attorney may even be able to get a BUI charge dismissed if there is insufficient evidence or serious problems with the state’s case.
Getting help from an attorney after an arrest
Anyone who has been arrested and charged with DUI should retain a defense lawyer to protect their rights and review their case. Michael M. Raheb is an experienced criminal defense attorney who assists clients in the Fort Myers area.
Firm contact info:
2423 First Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901