Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a matter of significant concern in Florida. This is because the state is a popular destination for both U.S. and international tourists. Passengers on vessels must understand the risks of spending time on the water with an impaired boat operator.
Like drivers can be pulled over when suspected of drunk driving, both state and federal authorities can stop watercraft operators. The Insurance Information Institute reported that over 50% of watercraft deaths involve alcohol or drugs. However, alcohol has been proved the top contributor.
Florida boating under the influence laws
The following are some of the BUI laws in Florida:
- Vessels include both motorized and non-motorized watercraft.
- Included are canoes, kayaks, ski-jets, barges, airboats and anything else that provides transportation on water.
- Like driving while impaired, boat operators’ breath or blood may not contain more than .08% of alcohol.
- Law enforcement could accuse boaters of being under the influence if they show visible signs of impairment.
- Anyone younger than 21 years with any alcohol in their blood may not operate a boat or other watercraft – a zero-tolerance policy.
- A boat operator who is impaired by medication can also be charged with boating under the influence.
Boat operators in Florida who cause serious injuries to others in boating accidents due to being impaired will face third-degree felony charges that could lead to a five-year prison sentence and/or a fine of $5,000. However, the boater may also face personal injury lawsuits filed in a civil court by injured victims pursuing recovery of documented monetary damages.