Whether boating is done for leisurely family time or for partying, you are still held responsible for the safe operation of your boat. Much like driving a car, drinking and driving a boat can be a criminal offense.
Here are some clear and hard facts about drinking and boating in Florida.
What the Laws State
Drinking is allowed boats but the operation of a vessel while driving is a direct violation of the law.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood- or breath-alcohol level is at or above .08. Also, 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.
You Are At Risk Of An Accident Under the Influence
In the vast state of Florida, it is summer year-round, and spring at best. That provides residents and visitors with unique opportunities to enjoy the boating life throughout the year. As a result, this relaxed lifestyle can put boaters and others in on the waterways in grave danger if a boater is under the influence while operating their maritime vessel.
In a 2014 study conducted by the U.S. Coast, it found that boating accidents involving alcohol were down in every state except Florida, where accidents were up. There are over 800,000 registered vessels in Florida, and the state ranks highest for boating fatalities at 6.7 out of 100,000.
Although these numbers may not seem that alarming, there is a growing trend of boating under the influence.
The Consequences of B.U.I.
Not only can BUI cause damage to your boat, but it could also put others in danger as well. Furthermore, the effects of boating under the influence and drinking and driving very similar.
A person who causes minor injury or property damage while under the influence is subject to a misdemeanor, which can result in up to a year in jail. A person who causes serious bodily injury will face a third-degree felony and can face up to five years in prison. And, an individual who causes the death of another while under the influence receives a second-degree felony and up to 15 years in prison.
From a civil standpoint, the injured party or their surviving relatives can sue a person who causes serious injury or death to another through negligence. Also, in this case, there are no limitations on monetary compensation.