For people across Pensacola, the holiday weekend can't come soon enough. The Fourth of July is a time for parades, barbecuing, kicking back with a drink and maybe even lighting off some fireworks. And many Floridians will enjoy these and other activities in their boats.
If you are planning to be on the water this weekend, you should know that you won't be alone: other boaters and police will be joining you. In fact, you may notice far more police vessels than usual thanks to increased efforts to stop and cite drunk boaters for violating Florida BUI laws.
What this means for you is that it could be more likely for you to get stopped and approached by police this weekend if you are operating a boat. If you haven't been drinking, you shouldn't have much to worry about.
However, if you have been drinking, you could be suspected of boating under the influence.
It is important to keep in mind that it is not necessarily illegal to have a drink or two when you are operating a boat. It is illegal, however, to be impaired and/or intoxicated when driving.
This means that you can be arrested and charged with BUI if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or if your facilities are impaired. It will be up to police to determine if you are impaired or intoxicated, but you still have rights that must be observed.
As is the case when you are behind the wheel of a car, police will need to follow strict procedures when it comes to administering sobriety tests and requesting breath and blood tests to measure intoxication. If your rights are violated during these processes, any evidence collected as a result of the violation will be dismissed, which could then lead to dropped charges.
Considering how many people will be on the water this weekend and how aggressive police can be when it comes to enforcing drunk driving laws, you could be among those charged with drunk boating. Rather than have these charges threaten your criminal record and your freedom, you can consult an attorney to defend yourself and protect your future.