woman operating a boat while drunk in Palm Beach Gardens FL

Boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious charge in Florida. Under Florida Statute 327.35 it is unlawful to command your vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, or you are operating your boat while your normal faculties are impaired, you can be found guilty of BUI. While a first offense is a misdemeanor, it's still important that you hire an experienced Palm Beach Gardens BUI lawyer, as boating under the influence can be charged as a felony if you have three offenses within 10 years, or if you cause an accident resulting in serious injury or death.

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A BUI is Very Similar to a DUI in Florida

The BUI statute is similar to the DUI statute as to what the state has to prove. Both offenses are misdemeanors for a first offense unless someone is injured. Both have increased penalties for subsequent convictions. Both require probation and require attendance at a substance abuse course. The court will also impound the vessel for 10 days, which is similar to the DUI statute, which requires a ten-day immobilization.

Does Your Driver’s License Get Suspended for a BUI?

Your driver’s license does not get suspended for refusing a blood, breath, or urine test. However, according to our Palm Beach Gardens BUI lawyer, you are subject to a civil penalty of $500. A refusal can be used against you in court. You can also challenge the refusal by requesting a hearing with the clerk of court within 30 days. If you do not pay the civil penalty within 30 days and you do not request a hearing with the clerk, operating a vessel is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Penalties for a First BUI

The first time you are found guilty of boating under the influence, you will face the following penalties:

  • A fine of $500-$1,000
  • Probation and up to six months in jail
  • 50 hours of community service
  • 10 days immobilization of the vessel
  • Additional conditions, as the court sees fit

Fight Your Charges With an Experienced BUI Lawyer in Palm Beach Gardens

If you've been arrested for operating a boat while drunk, it's imperative that you hire an experienced and proven BUI lawyer to help provide a reasonable defense on your behalf. As you read above, the penalties for a boating under the influence can carry a heavy penalty, including jail time. These charges are not something you should take lightly.

Palm Beach Gardens BUI lawyerHow to Find the Best BUI Attorney for Your Drunk Driving Charges

When it comes to boating under the influence, you don't want to just hire any defense attorney. It's important to find someone who has experience dealing with BUIs in Florida. When trying to find the best BUI lawyer for your case, you should do the following:

  • Do research. Don't just google and select the first attorney you see. Go to their websites. Look at their backgrounds. Make sure that whoever you are hiring has plenty of experience.
  • Read reviews. Make sure that when you find a few attorneys you think you like, that you are reading reviews from past clients on their Google profile or their website. Some criminal defense lawyers may not have any experience with boating under the influence charges, and thus would not make a good candidate to represent you.
  • Set up multiple consultations. Most criminal defense lawyers will offer a free consultation, so there is no harm in reaching out to several of them and setting up an initial screening.
  • Ask lots of questions. Your future and your record is on the line. Make sure that during your free consultation period, you are asking a lot of questions that will help differentiate one BUI lawyer from another.

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Contact Our Palm Beach Gardens BUI Lawyer Today!

Our firm handles a significant number of drunk boating cases every year. Contact us today to take advantage of our years of experience handling these charges to get the best possible outcome.