If you have been Arrested for BUI, You are right to be Worried

With the boating season soon to begin, the U.S. Coast Guard is once again reminding all boaters to boat responsibly. This means not operating a boat or any other water vessel recklessly, always making sure to wear a life jacket, taking a boating safety course; getting a free vessel safety check; and avoiding consumption of any impairing substance, the first of which is alcohol.

Boating, no doubt, can be totally fun and relaxing; however, boating requires many skills which a boat operator may not possess or even a skilled operator may not be able to apply well if he/she is alcohol impaired. These skills include: peripheral or night vision, focus, reaction time, especially in dangerous situations, cognitive abilities and the ability to correctly identify colors.

Due to alcohol-impaired operators, hundreds of boat accidents have already occurred, seriously injuring operators and passengers alike. There have also been many instances when intoxicated passengers would fall overboard and eventually drown, especially those not wearing a life jacket. While out at sea, alcohol will affect any person’s balance, coordination, vision and judgment, much faster than when alcohol is consumed on land. This is due to the overall marine environment, where the boat’s operator and passengers experience the sun, wind, sea water mist or spray, engine noise, vibration and motion. Thus, due to alcohol, capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling over board have been common cause-of-death reports.

The specific threatening effects of alcohol when it is consumed while on sea include:

  • Deterioration of judgment and cognitive abilities, rendering wise assessment of situations, processing of information and making good choices, much harder
  • Impairment in physical control, resulting to failure to make timely reactions to dangers, lack of coordination and problem in balance
  • Decrease in peripheral or night vision and depth perception, difficulty in identifying colors, especially green and red
  • Failure to pull self out of the cold water, causing hypothermia and death

Due to the dangers that may result from boating under the influence (BUI), states and the U.S. Coast Guard strictly implement the BUI law, warning potential violators of the harsh penalties they will face in the event that they infringe the mandate. States render it illegal to operate any type of boat when under the influence of alcohol or drugs; in addition, the BUI law enforced by the United States Coast Guard is a federal law, so that it applies to all U.S. ships and other types of boats (including canoes and rowboats), as well as to all foreign vessels sailing on U.S. territorial waters.

If arrested and charged with BUI, a Destin criminal defense attorney with the Flaherty Defense Firm would have you know that because of the challenges associated with navigating a criminal trial, it’s beneficial to seek support.

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The Crime of Shoplifting

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Criminal Defense Doctrines

States have their own penal codes, but in general follow common doctrine as it is embodied in federal law. In criminal defense, there are doctrines that are acceptable in most courts that will mitigate or nullify a criminal charge. Below is a list of the most common criminal defense doctrines.

Necessity

The defendant justifies a criminal act because it was to and did prevent a greater evil and there was no other legal alternative. An example would be a person charged with driving under the influence (DUI) may argue that driving prevented a kidnapping.  This is a complex issue, and courts are careful about accepting this type of defense.

Duress

This is usually a partial affirmative defense in which the defendant maintains that the act was committed in an unavoidable situation and under the immediate threat of death, violence or harm by a third party of the defendant or another person. An example would be robbing a bank under the direction of another person who will otherwise kill a family member who is under that other person’s control.

Automatism

This is a defense that includes involuntary intoxication and diminished capacity, in which the defendant maintains he or she had no control over their activities, or did not know right from wrong because of some permanent impairment or because of a temporary incapacity from the effects of a drug or other chemical. An example would be a drunk driving charge in which the defendant had unknowingly ingested alcohol at a party i.e. spiked punch.

Self defense

This is a familiar defense against charges of murder or battery, in which the defendant maintains the criminal act was executed as protection from the victim’s own violence.  With this defense, the defendant has to prove that the use of force was reasonable, and that the situation could not be avoided. An example would be a woman being raped hitting the person on the head with a rock to get away from her attacker.

Mistake

It is possible to avoid a conviction by claiming a mistake of fact. This is different from ignorance of the law which is not admissible as a defense. A person may known the law but still break it because of a misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the facts. An example would be the defendant entered a stranger’s house by mistake. While it is technically trespassing, there was no intention to do so.

These are by no means a complete list of criminal defense doctrines, but they are some of the most popular. If you ever need to choose one as a practical matter, leave it to your criminal defense lawyer to decide which one.

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