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Sarasota BUI Lawyer

Been Charged with Boating Under the Influence? Call (941) 564-5319 Today!

In Florida, it is illegal for you to operate a boat with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration level or with an amount of drugs or alcohol in your system that affects your ability to safely control the vessel. Because such behavior could put your life and the lives of others at risk, the State aggressively prosecutes these matters. If you were charged with a BUI and you don’t have effective legal counsel on your side, you might not know how the criminal justice process works, which could increase the chances of a conviction. Being found guilty of the offense could result in jail or prison time and/or fines.

At The Law Office of Wyndel G. Darville, PLLC, I understand what a frightening and confusing experience it can be to be charged with a BUI. That is why I am committed to providing the skilled legal advice and guidance you need to handle your case. I have over 20 years of experience practicing law and have served as a former prosecutor. Knowing how both sides approach criminal matters, I can thoroughly prepare for and present cases to seek favorable outcomes.

Discuss your situation during a free 30-minute consultation by calling (941) 564-5319.

What Is Boating Under the Influence?

Under Florida Statute 327.35, you could be charged with a BUI if you are in command or physical control of a boat on state waters, and you are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Specifically, it is illegal to operate a vessel when:

  • An intoxicating substance impairs your normal faculties, or
  • Your blood- or breath- alcohol level is .08 or more.

What Are the Penalties for a BUI Conviction?

Depending on the specifics of your situation, the potential penalties for a BUI conviction can vary. They can include, probation, jail or prison time, fines, mandatory substance abuse course attendance, and other sanctions.

If you are convicted of a first-time BUI, you could be facing:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

For a second-time BUI, potential punishments can include:

  • Up to 9 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

The penalties for a third BUI are increased, but the specific punishments you could face depend on how long ago you were convicted of your previous boating under the influence offense.

If you are convicted of your third BUI within 10 years of the prior, the penalties could include:

  • A third-degree felony charge
  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

For a third BUI conviction that occurs 10 years after the last one, the punishments you could be facing include:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

Penalties for fourth and subsequent BUI convictions can include:

  • A third-degree felony charge
  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

The level of charge and punishments could be increased if you were caught operating a boat with a BAC of .20 or higher or you caused an accident that resulted in property damage, serious bodily injury, or death.

In addition to imprisonment and fines you could also be looking at being:

  • Placed on probation
  • Ordered to complete a minimum of 50 hours of community service
  • Required to attend a substance abuse course
  • Subject to having your vessel impounded for 10 to 30 days

Driver Enhance Treatment Education Rehabilitation Program

For certain BUI offenses, the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) offers a diversion program that could result in a reduction of your boating under the influence charge to reckless driving.

To be eligible for Driver Enhance Treatment Education Rehabilitation (DETER), you must have been charged only with a misdemeanor DUI that did not involve aggravating factors such as having a BAC of .20 or higher or causing a crash.

Additionally, you must not have been charged with certain offenses in the past, such as a DUI or vehicular homicide.

You also cannot have any pending sanctions or charges, including:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • DUI
  • Driving while license suspended and committing a traffic offense that resulted in serious bodily injury
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Serving probation
  • Participating in another diversion program

The SAO will assign a level to your case, which determines the conditions you must complete during a 60-day period. There are three case levels, and the one you are classified into depends on the specifics of your circumstances.

After you agree to participate in DETER, you must:

  • Not commit a crime
  • Finish DUI school and other assigned treatment programs
  • Complete a MADD Online Victim Impact program
  • If you are a Level 1 offender:
    • Install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle or get an alcohol monitoring device if you don’t have a car
    • Complete 2 work offender days
  • If you are a Level 2 offender:
    • Install an ignition interlock device on your car or get an alcohol monitoring device if you don’t have a vehicle
    • Complete 4 work offender days
  • If you are a Level 3 offender:
    • Not have or use alcohol and/or drugs
    • Take a urinalysis weekly
    • Complete 4 work offender days

Once you complete your pre-trial period, your charge can be reduced to reckless driving. You will still be subject to other sanctions, such as being required to serve probation, paying a fine, and having your car immobilized.

After discussing your case with you, I, Attorney Wyndel G. Darville, will help determine your eligibility for DETER. I will also go over the specifics of the program and the sanctions you will be subject to, allowing you to fully understand the details of the initiative as they may pertain to you.

Contact My Firm to Get Started with Your Case

At The Law Office of Wyndel G. Darville, PLLC, I understand the seriousness of a BUI charge and the impacts of a conviction on your life. With your freedom and rights at stake, I will examine every detail of your circumstances to spot weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and find defenses that can be raised to fight charges. I am ready to provide the fierce representation you need and will work toward a “not guilty” verdict.

For the legal representation you need in Sarasota, call (941) 564-5319 or fill out an online contact form.

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