Tim Flaherty and Brandy Merrifield defend locals, military service members, and vacationers who have been charged with Boating Under the Influence in Destin.

One of the most popular things to do on a Destin vacation is rent a ski boat, pontoon boat, or a jet ski and take it out to Crab Island or Norriego Point to enjoy the water along with the hundreds of other boaters, yolo boarders, and swimmers.

As you now probably know, the Florida Fish and Wildlife officers station themselves right in the middle of all the fun. They are looking for anyone who shows any signs of having too much to drink.

Once they have zeroed in on a suspect, they will approach the boat, tie it off to their boat, and board. They will do this under the guise of a “vessel safety check.” They will make sure the boat has a sufficient number of flotation devices, and other safety equipment. Before they leave your boat, they will ask if anyone has been drinking. They will search the boat for empty containers, or open containers of alcohol.

If your good time on the boat was ruined and you were charged with Boating Under The Influence (BUI) in Destin, you have already been through a miserable experience being boarded, investigated, and arrested. In order to keep this ordeal from getting any worse, call a Destin BUI defense attorney as soon as possible.

My name is Tim Flaherty. I have been defending clients accused of BUI in Destin since 2001. I am also a boater myself so I know how the Fish and Wildlife Officers treat people. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. We know what mistakes they make that can be exploited to get your BUI case either dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.

Penalties for BUI in Destin

The penalties for a BUI charge are very similar to the ones for a DUI.

If this is your first or second offense, BUI is a first degree misdemeanor offense. The potential punishment ranges from 6 to 9 months in jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. If convicted, you will also be required to serve probation, complete community service hours, attend alcohol awareness classes, and have your boat impounded.

If you are accused of Boating Under The Influence that resulted in an accident that caused serious bodily injury, you will be charged with a felony BUI offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Breath Testing in Destin BUI Cases

At Crab Island and other popular boating spots in and around Destin, the Fish and Wildlife and Coast Guard set up mobile stations for breath testing. From there, suspects will be transported to the county jail.

Through years of experience defending DUI cases, we have learned how to successfully analyze and attack breath tests. If the breath machine wasn’t inspected, calibrated, or maintained properly, we will file a motion to suppress to have the breath test result in your case thrown out.

Similar to a DUI, Florida law requires any boater to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing of their blood alcohol content if they have been lawfully arrested for BUI. One key difference between BUI and DUI is that a refusal in a BUI will NOT result in a suspension of your driver’s license. The penalty for a refusal to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing in a BUI case in Destin is a civil penalty of $500.00. This penalty is in addition to any other fines or court costs imposed by the court.

Defending a Destin BUI Case

We have a good track record of securing dismissals and reduced charges for clients in DUI cases. However, the results are even better in BUI cases. Why is this? For one, the Fish and Wildlife Officers are nowhere near as well-trained in conducting BUI investigations or administering field sobriety tests as their counterparts in DUI cases are. Quite frankly, in BUI cases, the officers almost always give us something to work with.

The key is having the right BUI defense teams who knows what to look for and how to leverage any mistakes made by the officers to your benefit.

Call a Destin Boating Under The Influence Attorney

With extensive experience defending BUI cases in Destin, we can give you the help you need when you need it most. Call Flaherty & Merrifield 24/7 at (850) 460-7470 for a free consultation.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney