Fort Lauderdale Boating Under Influence Attorney
Boating under the influence is a very serious criminal offense in Florida. The Sunshine State has more boat registrations than any other state, and it also has the highest number of boating fatalities every year. It is not uncommon for people to consume alcohol while they are on a boat but if it is not done responsibly, it can result in very serious penalties. If you or someone you love has been charged, it is important to speak to a Fort Lauderdale boating under influence attorney right away.
What is Boating Under Influence?
Under Florida law, boating under the influence occurs any time a person operates a vessel and:
- Is under the influence of alcohol or any chemical substance also outlined under state law, and their normal faculties are impaired,
- They have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or
- They have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath
Reasonable Suspicion is Not Needed to Search Vessel in Boating Under Influence Cases
When a driver is suspected of driving under the influence while on the roads, police officers must have reasonable suspicion to pull them over. This same requirement is not necessary when law enforcement wants to stop and search a watercraft vessel. A police officer must only state that they want to ensure the boat meets the safety regulations to stop and board the boat.
If a police officer wants to search the vessel, they must have probable cause to do so. Probable cause means the officer had good reason to believe a criminal offense was taking place. Or, police officers can obtain a warrant and search the boat. If a police officer searches a boat for any other reason, it is considered an unlawful search.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officers often work around the probable cause requirement by performing a safety inspection. During this inspection, the officer may search areas that contain fire extinguishers, life jackets, boat registration, and more. When searching these areas, the officer may discover alcohol or other substances that could result in the officer laying charges. Additionally, if incriminating evidence is in the officer’s plain view, it can also be seized and used as evidence in the case.
Penalties for Boating Under Influence
Due to the fact that boating accidents are so common in Florida, boating under the influence is taken very seriously. If convicted, a person may face up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Penalties increase when individuals have prior boating under influence convictions on their record, or when the BUI results in property damage, injury, or death.
Our Boating Under Influence Attorney in Fort Lauderdale Can Help You Beat Your Charges
If you were charged with a BUI, our Fort Lauderdale boating under influence attorney at Meldon Law can provide the solid defense you need. Call us today at 800-373-8000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.