Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have said that they will be out in force this holiday weekend, to prevent Florida boating accidents. The officers are especially concerned about the tendency of some boaters to head out on the water after consuming alcohol or drugs. Boats and alcohol or drugs can create as many serious injuries and fatalities as Florida drunk driving accidents, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission claims.
According to officers, there are many reasons why boating and drinking don’t mix. First, the effects of alcohol and drugs can be intensified by the glare and the motion of the water, making someone feel the effects of alcohol much sooner than they normally would. As well, boaters who boat and drive often drink and drive as well when they haul their boats home, increasing their risk of causing a Florida car accident. During the holiday weekend, more boaters will also likely be on the water, increasing the risk of accidents and necessitating all boaters to remain focused and sober. There are many laws surrounding drinking and boating:
1) Operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol is sometimes referred to as BUI and is illegal under Florida laws. If you are stopped by an officer who has cause to believe you may be BUI, you may be asked to submit to testing for sobriety and blood alcohol levels.
2) If you are boating with a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or above, you are violating Florida BUI laws. Any boaters under the age of 21 years of age are considering to be BUI if they are boating with a breath alcohol level of 0.02 or more.
3) Many things can lead to additional penalties if you are accused of BUI. Previous DUI convictions, for example, can make the penalties for your BUI more severe. Also, if you are found to be operating a boat while under the influence with a child on board, you will generally face additional fines and penalties.
There are about one million registered boaters in Florida. In 2009, 65 people were killed in Florid boating accidents. In about 70% of these fatal accidents, the victims drowned after a boat capsized or after the victim fell overboard. Wearing proper safety gear (including lifejackets) and avoiding alcohol when boating can help make 2010 a safe boating season for everyone.