A boating under the influence (BUI) charge is a serious crime that can carry harsh legal penalties if convicted. Fortunately, those facing such a charge are not without hope. There are several possible defenses that can be used to fight a BUI charge, and with the right legal strategy, it is possible to have it dismissed or reduced, allowing the accused to avoid the full brunt of the criminal justice system.
At the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford, we understand how stressful and frightening it can be to face legal charges of any kind. Our legal team will assess the details of your case and develop an effective legal strategy to protect your rights and interests throughout the process. In this article, we will shed some light on the possible defensive strategies your lawyer may use when defending you against a BUI charge.
Common Defenses for a BUI Charge
Some of the most common defenses your lawyer may use for a BUI charge include:
Lack of Probable Cause for the Stop
One of the most common defenses to a BUI charge is to challenge the legality of the stop. In order for officers to stop someone on the water, they must have reasonable suspicion that the individual is committing or has committed a crime or that the individual was not adhering to boating safety regulations. If there is no proof that the officer had reasonable suspicion, then the stop was illegal, and any evidence collected during the stop may be inadmissible in court.
Additionally, if the charging officer entered the boat without the consent of the boat owner or if the owner was not present during the search, the defense may also challenge the legality of the search of the boat.
Insufficient Evidence of Operating the Boat
In Florida, the legal definition of operating a boat is not limited to the person who is at the helm. This means that a person can be charged with BUI even if they are not actually controlling the boat. However, the prosecution must still prove that the defendant was in command of, or in actual physical control of the vessel, even if they were not at the helm. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant was in command of or in actual physical control of the boat, then the charge may not be able to stand.
Challenging the Administration, Accuracy, or Reliability of a Breathalyzer Test
This defense strategy hinges on the accuracy and reliability of the breathalyzer test used to measure the accused’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Breathalyzer machines are highly-sophisticated and complex devices. If the machine was not properly calibrated or maintained, or the officer who administered the test did not follow proper protocol, then the accuracy and reliability of the test results may be called into question.
Challenging the Preservation of the Blood Samples
Unlike breathalyzer tests, blood tests can be preserved for retesting. While rare to collect blood samples for BUI charges, if the defense can prove that the sample was not properly preserved or that it was contaminated, the results may be deemed invalid.
Breakdowns in the Chain of Custody
The chain of custody is an important element in any criminal case and must be preserved in order for any evidence to be admissible in court. The chain of custody refers to the process of tracking the evidence from the time it is collected to the time it is presented in court. If the defense can demonstrate that the chain of custody has been broken at any point, then the use of the sample as evidence becomes objectionable.
Get Help Strategizing a BUI Defense Strategy With Our Legal Team
The defense strategies mentioned above are only a few of the many available to those facing a BUI charge. The Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford is experienced in defending clients in BUI cases and can help you strategize the strongest possible defense. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we can help you challenge the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, the procedures for your arrest, or any other legal issues that may arise.
Our team will work with you to develop a defense strategy that is tailored to your individual case and will ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way. We understand that facing a BUI charge is a serious matter, and we will do everything in our power to ensure you get the best outcome possible. Fill out our contact form or call us at (239) 315-9750 today to schedule your free consultation.