The Florida Legislature begins its regular session in less than a month, on March 2, and legislators have already started filing potential bills. Some of the proposed legislation pertains to different criminal matters, including boating under the influence, no contact orders for domestic violence cases, and expungement.
Senate Bill 598 proposes that a boating under the influence (BUI) conviction be recorded on a person’s driving record in the same manner as a conviction for driving under the influence. This means the offense would have to be reported to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
A person can be charged with boating under the influence if he or she is operating a vessel and is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or a combination of substances to the point where his or her normal faculties are impaired, according to Florida Statutes Annotated §877.111.
Additionally, if a person has a blood alcohol level or a breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, he or she could be considered legally intoxicated. If the person is in control of a vessel at that time, he or she could face BUI charges.
If the proposed bill passes, having a boating under the influence conviction on a person’s record could have a serious impact if he or she is arrested for driving under the influence. A BUI would be considered a prior offense, and the person could face increased penalties as a second-time drunk driving offender. If passed, this bill could go into effect July 1.
Senate Bill 342, a bill relating to no contact orders and pre-trial release requirements, also has been pre-filed. Under the proposed bill, certain conditions would apply to pre-trial release for crimes involving domestic violence, sexual violence, or family violence.
Domestic violence in Florida is any assault, battery, aggravated assault or battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment or other criminal offense committed by a household or family member that results in the injury or death to another household or family member, according to Florida Statutes § 741.28.
As a condition of pre-trial release for these offenses, a person must refrain from criminal activity and any contact with the victim. The addition to the bill would include an order of no contact, which would be effective immediately and enforceable for the duration of the pretrial release or until it is modified by the court.
According to the bill, the term “no contact” includes the following prohibited acts:
- Communicating orally or in any written form, either in person, electronically, telephonically or in any other manner. This includes directly or indirectly through a third person with the victim or anyone else named in the order
- Having physical or violent contact with the victim or any other named person or his or her property
- Being within 500 feet of the victim’s or other named person’s residence, even if the defendant and the victim or other named person share the residence
- Being within 500 feet of the victim’s or other named person’s vehicle, place of employment or a specified place frequented regularly by such person, such as a school
Another bill pre-filed in the legislature proposes requiring the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to expunge a minor’s non-judicial arrest record upon successful completion of a pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion program. This currently applies tov non-violent misdemeanors, but the bill proposes doing so for some felony offenses.
Additionally, a person could be eligible for expunction under the new bill if a judge or jury rendered a verdict of not guilty. The records of a person adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity are not eligible for expunction under this section.
The proposed bill also would go into effect July 1, if approved. In the case of a minor whose completion of the program occurred before July 1, 2015, the application for pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion expunction must be submitted within 6 months after July 1, 2015.
To pass, these laws must pass both houses of the Legislature and be signed by Gov. Rick Scott or, if Scott vetoes the bills, have the veto overturned by two thirds of the members of each house.