Florida Man on Trial for Deadly BUI Found Dead on Third Day of Trial
On the morning of March 18, 2016, Judsen Cunningham gathered a dozen people together and promised them an afternoon of music, beer and festivities. Shortly after the 4:30 a.m. departure from the Destin Harbor, he crashed the boat into the east jetty of the East Pass. The boat capsized and threw his passengers into the water. Two people were killed in the deadly boating accident.
Six months after the accident, Cunningham was arrested and charged with more than a dozen criminal counts, including homicide, negligent manslaughter-BUI, and BUI causing serious bodily injury. Witnesses testified in court that he had been drinking for hours prior to the crash and his BAC was 0.14, almost twice the legal limit.
Cunningham was standing trial In January 2019 when he was found dead in an apparent suicide. The prosecution had spent two days presenting their case against him and all living passengers from the boat accident came to testify against him. On the third day of his trial, Okaloosa County deputies responded to his home in Destin and found the young man dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. If he had been convicted of all charges, he would have faced life in prison. The circuit judge convened court and declared a mistrial in the BIU case.
Consequences of BUI in Florida
Florida is a boater’s paradise with 663 miles of beautiful, pristine, sandy coastlines. Boat operators have a responsibility to drive their boats safely and avoid being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In 2018, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee arrested 15 boaters for being impaired by drugs or alcohol while operating their boats. In an effort to crack down on drunk boaters, they are able to administer field sobriety and breath test on site more efficiently. Sadly one-third of all recreational boating fatalities involve the use of alcohol.
If you are charged with BUI, you can expect serious penalties and consequences, including:
- First BUI Conviction
- Fines up to $500
- Imprisonment up to 6 months
- Second BUI Conviction
- Fines up to $2500
- Up to 9 months in prison
- Third BUI Conviction within 10 years
- Felony in the Third Degree
- Imprisonment for up to 5 years
These are serious penalties that could adversely affect your entire future. As such, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side from the start. Your lawyer may be able to build a case that can have the charges reduced significantly from a BUI to the lesser charge of careless boating which is merely a civil infraction.
Have You Been Arrested for Boating Under the Influence in Jacksonville?
At Lockett Law, our Jacksonville BUI defense attorneys have helped numerous individuals who’ve been arrested and charged with BUI. There are serious consequences to BUI charges and we can help you avoid criminal prosecution. At Lockett Law, we work tirelessly to protect your future and protect your rights throughout all criminal proceedings. Call us today at (904) 667-0671 or fill out our confidential contact form. We are ready to fight for your rights and your future.