Florida has a global reputation as a water wonderland, where residents and visitors alike can set sail any month of the year. While a day out on the Sunshine State’s rivers, lakes, and sea can be fantastic fun for family and friends, boat accidents—rare as they may be—can carry truly catastrophic consequences, especially when another person loses their life.
Boating Under the Influence and Manslaughter Charges in Florida
Florida law prohibits anyone from operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Boaters are subject to the same restrictions: if police believe that you are intoxicated or find that you have a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, you could be charged with boating under the influence (BUI) by any law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the body of water. This could include the Coast Guard, a Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation officer, or local police.
The Potential Penalties for a BUI Manslaughter Charge
The Florida Statutes allows prosecutors to bring a BUI manslaughter charge against any person who operates a boat while intoxicated and causes the death of another human being.
Florida Recognizes Two Degrees of BUI Manslaughter
- Second-Degree BUI manslaughter. This is when an individual under the influence of drugs or alcohol causes the death of another human being. This felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- First-degree BUI manslaughter. This is when an individual under the influence of drugs or alcohol causes the death of another human being and does not stop to provide aid to the victim. This felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
How to Protect Your Rights After a BUI Manslaughter Arrest
- Staying silent and refusing to answer any law enforcement questions until you have an attorney present.
- Understanding the charges against you and what evidence the police may have of your alleged wrongdoing.
- Contacting a Florida BUI manslaughter lawyer and following their instructions. While the court may provide you with a “free” public defender, these lawyers—while often experienced professionals—may not give your case the time and attention it deserves. You may even be billed for their services afterward!
Contact an Okaloosa County BUI Manslaughter Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a BUI manslaughter in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.