Florida has many waterways and while this presents wonderful opportunities for boating and recreation, the many boaters in Florida also make the state the leader when it comes to serious and fatal boat accidents.
One of the risks associated with boating is the risk of inebriated boating. Unfortunately, some people head out on the water after drinking or drink while boating. Just as in a car, this can lead to slower response times, fatigue, sleepiness, and poor judgment which can result in a collision. Each year, people fall overboard, drown, or crash into other boaters or into the shore because they’ve been drinking and boating. Boating under the influence is illegal in Fort Lauderdale and the rest of Florida, but it is still a serious problem.
One Proposed Solution to the Boating Under the Influence Problem
There have been a number of proposals to curb this dangerous trend, and now legislators have suggested making the consequences of boating under the influence more significant. Rep. Gayle Harrell has proposed a bill which would see boating under the influence charges appear on a driver’s record, alongside any DUI charges. The bill would merge driving and boating records, essentially.
Proponents of the bill claim that boaters will take boating under the influence charges far more seriously if they know that their charges on the water can show up on their driving record and affect their insurance rates as well as any car accidents they have. Proponents also note that there is a connection between being irresponsible on the water and being irresponsible with drinking elsewhere. The idea is that someone who makes the wrong choices on the water could easily make the wrong choices when driving, and should be held accountable for their actions.
Critics of the Proposed Law
Critics of the bill say that what happens on the water and what happens on the road are not always comparable. They claim that BUI charges can create prejudice in the legal system against anyone who does not have any DUI charges. If someone is pulled over for suspected DUI in Fort Lauderdale or another community and a police officer sees that the driver has a previous BUI charge, critics say that could lead the officer to make assumptions about the driver’s innocence. Critics also say there is another problem with the proposed law: some boaters don’t even have driver’s licenses.
Some critics also point out that while drinking and boating does lead to boating injuries, it ranks as number ten on the list of boating accidents according to the FWC. The FWC ranks speed, lack of attention, and experience as among the top three reasons for boating accidents in the state. Critics of the new proposed BUI law suggest that more focus should be given to these issues.
If you have been injured by a drunk boater or by a negligent boater, you do have legal options, even before this bill is passed. You may be able to seek compensation from the boat owner and their insurance company, for example, if negligence led to your injuries. To find out more and to get legal advice pertaining to the specifics of your situation, contact the law offices of Flaxman Law Group today for a free, no obligation case review.