Summer is here in Southwest Florida, which means many long days will be spent boating and enjoying time out on the water with friends and family. These summer days will likely involve alcohol, before you pick up a drink it is important to keep in mind that there are serious consequences when it comes to boating under the influence (BUI).
According to the U.S. Coast Gaurd, Florida leads the country in the number of boating accidents to occur from 2015-2019. In the same report, it is noted that alcohol is the leading known cause of fatal boating accidents.
Operating a vessel after consuming alcohol is extremely dangerous, it poses a risk to yourself, your passengers and other boaters. Like a driving under the influence (DUI) charge, a BUI can come with harsh legal ramifications, including hefty fines, boat impoundment and jail time. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for operating a boat or other marine vessel is .08% in the state of Florida. If you are convicted of a first-time BUI offense, you risk facing a fine between $500 and $1,000, as well as up to six months in jail.
You may feel very confident in your boating skills, which can lead to letting your guard down while on the water. However, here in Southwest Florida, our waterways are filled with tourists, who may be inexperienced boaters, every day.
For inexperienced boaters, operating a boat or other marine vessel is even more dangerous while under the influence of alcohol. Many different factors can intensify the effects of alcohol such as seasickness, weather, distractions and overall lack of experience on the water. It is safest to completely avoid alcohol when you are operating a boat.
There are many ways to avoid a BUI. While it is always important to practice safe boating while on the water, it is even more important when alcohol is being consumed. These five tips will help to keep you, your passengers and other boaters safe while spending the day on the water:
- Choose a designated driver if alcohol is involved
- Always be aware and cautious of your surroundings, especially on busy holidays such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated (especially in the Southwest Florida summer heat)
- Have snacks and food on hand
- Stay cool with loose-fitting clothes or jump in the water to avoid heat exhaustion
If you are facing an alcohol-related charge for operating a marine vessel or motor vehicle, contact the Law Office of Joseph Cerino today to schedule a consultation with our experienced attorneys.