Every driver should be aware of Florida DUI laws. However, every person who drives a boat may not be aware there are laws against driving a boat while drunk. Drinking and boating may seem to go together when you think of how much fun a party on the water can be; however, the person driving the boat needs to be prudent.

The Sober Truth About Alcohol and Water

While partying on the water can be tons of fun, when alcohol and/or drugs are involved, the potential for serious accidents increases dramatically, especially if the driver of the boat is intoxicated.  Nationally, it is estimated there are over 60,000 non-fatal boating accidents annually. Unfortunately, the majority of them happen in Florida waters.

Boating accidents claim more lives than a plane or train accidents. Only motor vehicle accidents have a higher death rate than boating accidents. There were over 700 deaths in 2016 alone. That year also saw nearly 3,000 people injured, and those were only the reported incidents. Each year, Florida ranks highest for boating injuries and fatalities. Many of those accidents involve alcohol.

Secondary Reasons Why Drinking and Boating Don’t Mix

Intoxication causes plenty of problems on its own, as far as reflex time and good judgment goes.  Your balance is also greatly impaired. Open water has none of the constraints that roadways have. There are no traffic signals, speed limits, potholes to avoid or merging lanes to worry about; however, the lack of constraints does not make it safer to drink and drive a boat.

There’s a phenomenon called “boater’s hypnosis,” which, by itself, can slow your reaction time almost as much as if you had been drinking. Natural stressors, such as the motion of the boat, sun glare, wind, noise, and vibration, have been shown to produce boater’s hypnosis. Add a couple of drinks on top of this and you have a situation ripe for a serious accident.

Florida Boating Law Says No Driving While Drunk

It is illegal to operate a vessel if your blood- or breath-alcohol level is .08 or above. The law is stricter on people under 21. A BAC of .02 is then illegal if the person is operating or in physical control of the boat. Passengers are allowed to drink, and there is no regulation against open bottles on boats.

Enjoy yourself on the water, but if you’re driving the boat, it’s best to avoid alcoholic beverages. Failure to do so could have tragic results. Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., specializing in personal injury law. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries and would like a free initial consultation about the matter, please contact us. We are the lawyers who care, serving the southwest region of Florida including Port Charlotte, North Port, and Englewood.