Florida Boating Accidents – Boating Under the Influence

March 27, 2009

We all know it’s wrong to drink and drive on the road, but when you are out on your boat on a lazy weekend afternoon and you pop open a cold one as you are motoring along, do you put yourself into the same category as a motor vehicle driver who has been drinking? If you don’t, you should, because operating a boat while drinking falls under similar laws and restrictions as drinking and driving an automobile.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says:

  • It is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.  A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test to determine blood- or breath-alcohol content.
  • In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood- or breath-alcohol level is at or above .08.
  • Any person under 21 years of age who is found to have a breath-alcohol level of .02 or higher and operates or is in actual physical control of a vessel is in violation of Florida law.

There is a good reason for the stiff BUI laws. According to the boatingundertheinfluence.org website, boaters who operate a vessel with a blood alcohol level of over .10% are 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than a sober boater. Also, BUI is the leading cause of fatal Florida boating accidents.

If you are charged with a BUI, you’ll be subject to the same penalties a DUI carries:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Probation
  • It’s a felony if you cause property damage, injury, or death while boating under the influence.

Also remember that medications you may be taking, the sun and wind, and the motion of the boat can make the effects of your drink more pronounced, so you can feel and act more inebriated more quickly than you might think. And, don’t forget the divers that may be in the water around you – many divers are hurt annually in Florida boating accidents by impaired boaters. If you are boating while drinking, you’ve also lowered the chances of noticing those dive flags.

The summer is coming up and more and more boaters will be taking to the waters around Florida. Boating accidents are going to increase as the waterways become more congested. Don’t run the risk of becoming a statistic: leave the alcohol at home!

If you’ve or a loved one has been injured in Florida boating accidents, contact Florida boating accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or email him today.


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