Charged with a BUI in Pinellas County or Tampa Bay?

Pinellas County and Tampa Bay is a boater’s paradise.  However, if you have been stopped and charged with boating under the influence with a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or higher you are subject to being arrested for BUI. Boaters under 21 are considered impaired and can be arrested on a BUI if he or she has a blood-alcohol content of 0.02 percent or higher.  If you have other controlled substances on board or have been found to be under the influence of any controlled substance under chapter 893, you will be arrested for boating under the influence.

Call 727-824-5727 to Speak With a Tampa Bay BUI Lawyer 

BUI Attorney Pinellas County FL

Need a BUI Lawyer? 727-824-5727

If You Are Found Guilty of a BUI – Florida Statute 327.35 states:

(1) A person is guilty of the offense of boating under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is operating a vessel within this state and:

(a) The 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;
(b) The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
(c) The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Florida Boating and BUI Laws

The Statutes state ; It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage boaters to have a “designated driver” who does not consume alcoholic beverages. If you’ve reached this site looking for a Pinellas County BUI attorney you may have already been charged operating a vessel under the influence with no designated driver or you were not the driver and have been charged as such because in Florida a boat can be operated without a driver.
Unlike driving under the influence charges or DUI charges, it can be difficult to determine who was operating your boat. Pursuant to F.S. 327.02(27), (33) “Operate” means to be in charge of, in command of, or in actual physical control of a vessel upon the waters of this state, to exercise control over or to have responsibility for a vessel’s navigation or safety while the vessel is underway upon the waters of this state, or to control or steer a vessel being towed by another vessel upon the waters of the state. In short, the law may consider you to be operating the boat, even if you weren’t actually driving the boat.

Probable Cause to Stop a Vessel in Florida
The boating laws in Florida make it much easier to be pulled over in a boat or vessel and the police do not require probably cause to stop or search your boat. Many boaters make an assumption that the need for probable cause when being pulled over in a DUI are the same as in a BUI. Again, the police do not need probable cause or suspicion to stop your boat or to check for compliance and inspection.  An arrest for any criminal violation including, but not limited to a BUI charge can occur without probable cause for stopping you.  The police or authorities can NOT however board your boat for inspection if the owner or operator of the boat is not present.

Discovery and Signs of  BUI Impairment
Once an officer has boarded a boat for “inspection” they will immediately begin to look for signs of intoxication. If they suspect you are intoxicated or you have been operating a boat under the influence (BUI) , a breathalyzer test will be administered. Those results are admissible in court as evidence to prosecute you.

(BUI) Boating Under the Influence Penalties Florida

Florida BUI Fines and Penalties:  If you are found guilty of a first time conviction BUI in Pinellas County or Tampa Bay, the potential fines can be as high as $1,000 plus up to 6 months in jail. Other penalties Pursuant to Florida Statutes 316.193(6)(a) state:

(2)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), subsection (3), or subsection (4), any person who is convicted of a violation of subsection (1) shall be punished:

1. By a fine of:

a. Not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for a first conviction.
b. Not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000 for a second conviction; and

2. By imprisonment for:

a. Not more than 6 months for a first conviction.
b. Not more than 9 months for a second conviction.

Pursuant to F.S. 327.35(6)(a) – First Time BUI Conviction Florida

(a) For the first BUI conviction, the court shall place the defendant on probation for a period not to exceed 1 year and, as a condition of such probation, shall order the defendant to participate in public service or a community work project for a minimum of 50 hours. In short, if you are convicted on a first time BUI in Pinellas or Tampa Bay, you must complete 50 hours of community service work as a condition of your probation and you do not have an option to buy out your community service. The court must also, as a condition of probation, order the impoundment or immobilization of the vessel that was operated by or in the actual control of the defendant or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name at the time of impoundment or immobilization, for a period of 10 days or for the unexpired term of any lease or rental agreement that expires within 10 days. The impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with the incarceration of the defendant. The impoundment or immobilization order may be dismissed in accordance with paragraph (e) or paragraph (f). The total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 1 year.

Consult with an experienced Pinellas County Criminal Defense and BUI Lawyer – 727-824-5727

Second Offense BUI Penalties Florida
If you were arrested and convicted previously in Florida on a BUI and you have been charged with BUI for a second time within five years of your prior conviction “The court shall order imprisonment for not less than 10 days.” Probation, fines and impoundment can be expected. 2nd Offense BUI – Fines $1,000-$2,000 and jail time of no more than nine months.

Third Violation BUI Florida
If you have been arrested for BUI for the third time and you are convicted within ten years of any previous violations will face third degree felony charges.

Other Charges that Can Accompany a BUI Charge in Florida

Frequently, when a person is charged with a BUI other charges are also filed such as reckless boating, boating in an unregistered vessel, violating no wake zones and boating in unauthorized waters.

Federal Charges BUI

BUI’s in Pinellas County and Tampa Bay Florida are usually prosecuted by the local State Attorney’s Office. However depending on where the vessel was being operated, it can be a potential Federal Offense and BUI is frequently investigated by the United States Coast Guard

Retain a Pinellas County Criminal Defense and BUI Attorney to Fight for You

If you have been arrested and charged with a BUI in Pinellas County, Florida it is important to retain an experienced BUI lawyer in Pinellas County.  If you or a loved one is in jail on a BUI and you would like to retain us to represent you in a first appearance BUI and bond hearing please contact us by calling or using the form below. We are seasoned Tampa Bay criminal defense trial attorneys experienced in representing clients who have been charged with DUI’s and boating under the influence in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin and throughout multiple jurisdictions in Tampa Bay.
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Penalties are even greater if damage to someone’s property or if a person dies as a operating a vessel while under the influence which is BUI Manslaughter. If you have been charged with BUI Manslaughter, hiring an aggressive, experienced Tampa Bay BUI trial attorney to represent you is crucial. BUI Manslaugher is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison or up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the operator left the scene of the accident without rendering aid as required by law.

Read More: Boating Under the Influence in Tampa Bay