Would you take a few shots, knock back some beers or sip on a slew of cocktails before getting behind the wheel of your car? Well, what makes driving under the influence any different than boating under the influence? Some make the mistake of thinking that BUI is somehow safer than DUI because there are fewer boats on most waterways than there are cars on the road. But the statistics don’t lie; according to the American Boating Association, the leading contributor to fatal boating accidents is alcohol.
That being said, some still decide to recklessly operate their boat inebriated. For those people, there are laws in place to add a little incentive to do the right thing.
Quick Facts About Florida’s Boating Under the Influence Law
- Drinking and boating is not illegal unless the boat’s operator is above the legal BAC limit of .08 for those 21 years of age and older, or if the officer believes the operator is considerably impaired.
- An officer is allowed to stop a boat if they catch the operator speeding or operating recklessly.
- Boating while intoxicated by recreational drugs other than alcohol is also considered boating under the influence.
- Certain prescription medications that can hinder judgment or reaction times can lead to reckless boat operation and persecution under the boating under the influence law.
- The US Coast Guard has the right to arrest those found boating under the influence off of Florida’s shoreline.
- All boats, from canoes to superyachts, fall under Florida’s boating under the influence law.
Consequences for Boating Under the Influence
- First conviction: $250-$500 and up to six months of jail time
- Second conviction: $500-$1,000 and up to nine months of jail time
- Third conviction: $1,000-$2,500 and up to 12 months of jail time
Understand that fines and jail (or even prison time) only become more serious when arrests occur within 10 years of a prior boating under the influence arrest, or when an accident damages property or people.
Last year saw 701 deadly boating accidents. This is a lifestyle we love, but boating safety must be respected and followed in order to keep you, your family and all others who enjoy boating having fun while on the water. Though it may be tempting to indulge while taking the boat out, it is never worth risking your life and the lives of others.
Have fun, be safe and we’ll see you on the water this summer.