Warm weather, long sunny days and miles of coastline make water-sports a popular Florida pastime. From family reunions and friendly get-togethers to annual events, there is no shortage of celebratory opportunities to go out on a boat. However, imbibing and boating do not mix and can result in life-altering injuries.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, watercraft regulations are similar to that of land vehicles. Intoxication is a leading cause of water fatalities and devastating accidents. Operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol has the same rules and legal BAC as automobiles on the state’s roadways, 0.08 for adults of legal drinking age.
Drugs and Alcohol
Implied consent laws are the same on the water as they are on land. This means that refusing a sobriety test as requested by peace officers can result in fines, and potentially criminal charges if there is a record of a previous refusal by the operator. Boat-Ed reports that operating while intoxicated carries the following penalties:
- Fines of up to $500 and six months in jail at the first conviction
- Fines of up to $1,000 and nine months imprisonment at the second conviction
- Fines of up to $2,500 and a year in prison at the third conviction.
In situations where injury or death occurs, the intoxicated operator likely faces felony charges. If convicted, they lose civil liberties, cannot hold particular jobs and are not eligible for student loans. For those injured in boating accidents, life often changes dramatically. Head and spinal cord injuries affect not only the victims but loved ones as well. Boaters often have no experience or training, which can result in a negligence lawsuit.