Boating Under the Influence - Aaron Delgado & Associates

Boating Under the Influence: A Guide

by Aaron Delgado
04/09/21 (Updated: 08/19/21)

When people think about the pristine Coastline of Florida, they often think about endless waterways, scuba diving opportunities, and plenty of places to boat. Unfortunately, boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious concern in Florida. Similar to operating a car on the highway, driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense.

The results of driving a boat under the influence can be deadly, so it should come as no surprise that alcohol is often cited as a contributing factor in numerous boating accidents in Florida. What do you need to know about driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Florida?

Understand the Law Surrounding Boating Under the Influence in Florida

Florida has a specific statute, 327.35, that describes what it means to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol in Florida. The most important points to keep in mind include:

  • It is against the law to drive a boat in the State of Florida with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.
  • A conviction for a first offense could include a fine between $500 and $1,000.
  • A first conviction could also play someone in jail for up to six months.
  • Anyone who drives a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.15 could face enhanced penalties.

Importantly, if someone drives a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is involved in an accident that leads to injuries to someone else, this crime becomes a felony. The penalty for this could include a higher fine and up to five years in prison.

Clearly, the penalties for driving a boat under the influence of alcohol in Florida are serious. It is critical for everyone to make sure they never drink and drive a boat, car, or any other vehicle.

How Common Is Boating Under the Influence?

Unfortunately, driving a boat under the influence is more common than many people realize. According to information that has been published by the United States Coast Guard, deadly accidents involving boats commonly involve alcohol. In addition, alcohol is cited as a common contributing factor in accidents that lead to injuries as well.

Because both are common in Florida, it should come as no surprise that Florida has actually led the nation in boating accidents related to alcohol consumption. Even though going out on the water is supposed to be a fun experience, there are situations where it can turn tragic. There are lots of people who enjoy drinking alcohol when they go out on a boat; however, it is important to have a designated driver. This activity should be treated as a night out on the town as well. Everyone has to have a backup plan if they decide to drink. Nobody should drive a boat if they have been drinking. That is why it is important to have a designated driver.

Is There Any Civil Liability for Driving a Boat Under the Influence?

If someone is ticketed for driving a boat under the influence of alcohol, they might not face any civil liability; however, if they are involved in an accident because they were driving a boat under the influence of alcohol, there may be civil liability involved as well.

In addition to serious criminal charges, someone who injures someone else because they were driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs could be held responsible in civil court. If someone is injured in an accident due to the negligence of someone else, they should not be responsible for their medical or property expenses. This is true regardless of whether someone is driving a car or a boat.

Therefore, if someone is driving a boat under the influence of alcohol and injures someone else (such as a head injury or a broken leg), the person driving the boat could be held responsible in civil court. In addition to having to pay to repair whatever property was damaged, the responsible party may have to cover medical expenses as well. That individual may also be held responsible for any lost income on behalf of the victim because they were unable to work due to injury.

What Is Required To Pursue an Injury Claim Following a BUI Accident?

If you have been injured in a boating accident, you should see if the other person was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision. If they were, you may be able to pursue damages due to any property damage and injuries. If you want to be compensated fairly, you should work with an experienced boating under the influence attorney in Florida. That way, you know that your rights are being defended.

First, the other person may have boating insurance. If that is the case, this will be the first draw for any damages you receive. If the other person does not have enough insurance to cover the cost of your medical expenses and property damage, then you may have to file a lawsuit against the other individual. An experienced attorney will know how to do this for you.

If you have been involved in an accident involving a BUI, then you need to act as quickly as possible. There is a statute of limitations involved when it comes to boating accidents, including those that involve a BUI. If you do not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you may miss out on your opportunity to recover damages.

Work With an Experienced BUI Attorney in Florida

There are a lot of differences when it comes to legal matters involving a BUI vs a DUI. Therefore, you need to work with a lawyer who has experience in this field. That is where Aaron Delgado and Associates can help you. Make sure your rights are defended by experienced, compassionate attorneys. We would be honored to act as your legal guide. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you!

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