BUI Crimes in Pasco County

Most investigations for boating under the influence (BUI) in Pasco County, FL, involve officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), but officers from local police departments and deputies with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office also conduct BUI investigations.

For cases prosecuted in Pasco County, FL, the crime of boating under the influence (BUI) requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  • the defendant was operating a vessel on the waters in Paco County, FL;
  • at the time, the defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages or chemical or controlled substances either:
    • to the extent their normal faculties were impaired; or
    • on a per se basis because the BAC or BrAC was .08 or higher at the time of the operation.

On the waterways in Florida, officers conduct stops on vessels because of violations of the rules of navigation on the waterway or during a routine safety check. For purposes of a BUI investigation, a vessel might include a boat, personal watercraft, jet ski, or wave runner.

During the initial stop, the officer is trained to identify the operator of the vessel and look for signs of intoxication, including the distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the subject’s breath. When alcohol impairment is suspected, the officer will often report seeing red, watery, or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and unsteady feet.

The officers are trained to ask the subject if they had anything to drink to see if there is an admission of consuming alcohol.

If the officer has sufficient cause to suspect intoxication, he might request the subject to submit to the so-called seated battery of Field Sobriety Exercises (SFSE). If the officer believes that the subject performed poorly on SFST’s, then the officer might make an arrest for BUI.

The officer will then request that the subject provide a sample of his breath to determine its alcoholic content or a urine test to detect the presence of any chemical or controlled substances. If the subject refuses, the officer will read the implied consent warning.

If the suspect continues to refuse, the officer will impose a $500 civil penalty that can be contested in court.

Attorney for BUI in Pasco County, FL

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm understand mistakes made by officers when administering and interpreting the seated battery of FSEs, including hand coordination, finger to nose, finger count, palm pat, time estimation, or HGN.

Officers in these cases often have minimal training in how to contact the SFSE, which might include the eight (8) hour N.A.S.B.L.A. transition to seated battery course or the twenty-four (24) hour N.A.S.B.L.A. BUI Detection Course.

If you are accused of refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, we can help you contest the $500 civil penalty in court.

If you were falsely accused of BUI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. With offices in New Port Richey, we fight BUI cases throughout Pasco County, FL, and the surrounding areas.

Call 727-807-6392.

Do BUIs Qualify for a Diversion Program and Reduction?

In Pinellas County and Pasco County, FL, a BUI case is eligible for the DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program (DROP). Your criminal defense attorney can help you apply for the diversion program and complete the application. If accepted, you must complete the Tier I or Tier 2 requirements.

The Tier I DROP program requires completing the following tasks for a reduction from BUI:

  • 20 hours of community service;
  • the U.S. Coast Guard Approved Boating Course; and
  • the MADD Victim Impact Panel.

The DUI diversion plea offer can be revoked if you fail to complete all the requirements within the specified time frame.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.