“As we enter our busiest season, many tourists will be enjoying boating on our waters. We at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. feel it is important to remind boaters that boating under the influence (BUI) is not only illegal but dangerous. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has specific information on boating under the influence which we would like to share with you,” said Randall Spivey, Fort Myers Boating Accident Attorney.
The USCG says that BUI is just as deadly as drinking and driving, and it is illegal in every state to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This pertains to all boats, including canoes, rowboats, and larger vessels, even foreign vessels which operate in our waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.
The USCG wants boaters to know the following:
- Drink for drink, a boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver.
- The penalties for BUI can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges, and serious jail terms.
- The use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities.
BUI accidents are more likely to happen because alcohol affects judgment resulting in more than half of the victims capsizing their boats and/or falling overboard. Reaction times decrease when alcohol is used while boating because boaters are subject to motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray, which accelerate a drinker’s impairment.
What are the effects of alcohol on boaters or passengers?
When a boater or passenger drinks, the following occur:
- Cognitive abilities and judgment deteriorate, making it harder to process information, assess situations, and make good choices.
- Physical performance is impaired which is evidenced by balance problems, lack of coordination, and increased reaction time.
- Vision is affected, including decreased peripheral vision, reduced depth perception, decreased night vision, poor focus, and difficulty in distinguishing colors (particularly red and green).
- Inner ear disturbances can make it impossible for a person who falls into the water to distinguish up from down.
- Alcohol creates a physical sensation of warmth, which may prevent a person in cold water from getting out before hypothermia sets in.
What is Florida’s law covering boating under the influence?
States have the authority to enforce their own BUI statutes. Florida’s Statute 327.35 says,
(1) A person is guilty of the offense of boating under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is operating a vessel within this state and:
(a) The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
(b) The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
(c) The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
“If you or a loved one is injured in a boating accident, please contact our firm. We have the experienced legal team to assist you, and there are no costs or attorney fees unless we make a monetary recovery for you,” said Attorney Spivey.
Fort Myers Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.