Florida does not immediately suspend your driver’s license if you are convicted of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but a BUI conviction could still impact your ability to drive and your freedom to live your life in several ways. If you are charged with a BUI in Northwest Florida, you owe it to your family and your future to fight the charges with the help of a skilled BUI defense attorney. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a BUI conviction will only affect your weekend fun!
How a Florida BUI Conviction Could Impact Your Non-Boating Life
While a BUI conviction will not appear on your driving record, it will count as a strike against you if you are later charged with Driving Under the Influence. That means the criminal penalties you face will be enhanced the same way they would be for a second or subsequent DUI. In other words, your first DUI would not be considered a first offense, and you would have serious penalties with little chance of leniency or alternative sentencing options. So, what you do on the water does impact your life on land. That’s why it’s so important to fight a BUI charge just as you would fight a drunk driving charge.
Consequences of a BUI Conviction in Florida
In addition to the potential impact on your ability to drive a car, a Florida BUI conviction can negatively affect your life in these ways:
- You will have a criminal record. A boating under the influence conviction will result in a criminal record, which can have long-term consequences. It will appear on background checks, potentially affecting employment prospects, housing applications, and educational opportunities.
- Boating license suspension. If you are convicted, your boating privileges will be suspended. The length of the suspension can vary based on the circumstances of the offense and prior convictions, ranging from a few months to several years. If you use your boat for work or transportation, this could have a devastating effect on your livelihood, in addition to depriving your family of fun boating activities.
- Paying steep fines. Florida imposes fines and penalties for BUI convictions. The exact amount depends on factors such as the blood alcohol content (BAC) level and any previous convictions but can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. This could create a devastating financial burden for you.
- Higher insurance premiums. A BUI conviction can lead to an increase in insurance premiums or even the cancellation of an existing policy. Insurance companies view individuals with BUI convictions as high-risk clients, which can make it more challenging to obtain affordable coverage in the future.
- Jeopardizing professional licenses. Depending on your occupation, a BUI conviction can affect your professional licenses, especially those that require a clean criminal record. For example, commercial boat operators, marine professionals, and certain government positions may be jeopardized, potentially leading to job loss or limitations in career advancement.
- Emotional impact. A BUI conviction can have a significant personal and emotional impact. You might experience guilt, shame, and regret over your actions, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. The consequences of a BUI conviction can disrupt your life, strain your relationships, and require significant effort to rebuild and move forward.
- Repeat offenses put your future at risk. Florida has increasingly strict penalties for subsequent BUI convictions, including longer license suspensions, higher fines, and potential jail time. Repeat offenders face an even more challenging path toward regaining their driving and boating privileges.
Why You Need a Fort Walton Beach BUI Attorney
With the help of a skilled BUI and DUI defense attorney, you can significantly improve your chances of avoiding a criminal conviction. Your attorney will investigate to determine if your rights were violated when you were questioned and arrested, argue for leniency, or negotiate an alternative sentence. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a BUI arrest will only affect your free time. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest about the consequences you face and your options for avoiding the worst outcomes.