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The Dangers Of Alcohol And Boating In Florida

The Dangers Of Alcohol And Boating In Florida

Boating is a hobby that many people in Florida can enjoy year-round. Whether you’re on the Gulf of Mexico or in one of the state’s many lakes, it pays to stay alert. Unfortunately, not everybody follows the laws and guidelines when it comes to safe boating. When most people think of boating, it is common that alcohol and partying are associated with the fun of being “isolated” on the water. Boating under the influence of alcohol can be very dangerous not only to you and your passengers but to others who are also out enjoying the Florida waters.

Alcohol is considered a depressant and severely impairs your function and ability to operate a vehicle or in this case a boat. While each state has its own laws when it comes to alcohol consumption and boat operation, the federal legal limit to operate a boat or any type of vehicle is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% g/dL. This applies to any boat, including canoes, kayaks, and rowboats. Operating a boat under the influence is a federal offense. Each state has its own penalties for such an offense, including:

  • Loss or suspension of boating license
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Seizure, impoundment, or even sale of the boat

In the state of Florida, operating a boat automatically gives consent to be tested for alcohol or drug consumption if a peace officer requests it. Refusing to be tested can result in additional penalties. Legal BAC limits often apply to those of legal drinking age or anyone who is 21 or older. Underage drinking is usually handled more stiffly, and many states have zero-tolerance when it comes to drinking any amount of alcohol and boating.

Alcohol-Related Boating Accidents

There are over 900,000 boats registered in the state of Florida, and most boaters take to the waters responsibly. There are some who decide to have a couple of drinks while out on the water, or before heading out, and that’s where the danger begins. Alcohol seriously impairs one’s ability to react and affects judgment. Factors such as the gentle motion of the waves and being directly under the sun may greatly increase the influence of alcohol in some people. 

Boaters under the influence tend to take bigger risks than they would if they were sober. When people operate a boat under the influence, they may crash into another boat, causing serious injury to not only their passengers but to passengers on the other boat as well. Other types of boating accidents caused by drunk boat operators include hitting and injuring swimmers, crashing into a dock and possibly killing people who are standing on the dock, and more. In 2015, alcohol was the cause of 260 boating accidents, 91 deaths, and 228 injuries nationwide. 

Types Of Injuries That Can Be Sustained From a Boating Accident

While being in a boating accident can be seriously scary, the injuries that can occur are far scarier.  Some of the injuries that can be sustained from a boating accident include:

  • Spinal Cord Injuries- When two boats collide, the impact can cause pressure on a person’s spinal cord, or spinal compressions, which can cause serious injury to the spinal cord.
  • Lacerations- Boats depend on propellers to move forward. Propellers are sharp in nature and very dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with them as they can cause deep cuts, or lacerations, to the skin.
  • Whiplash- Whiplash occurs when the head and body move suddenly and in a matter that causes strain to the neck.  Most cases of whiplash are a minor strain, but in some cases, it can be serious or fatal.  The sudden stop when a boat collides with another boat or another object can cause whiplash.
  • Injuries To Bones And Ligaments- Passengers can hit the inside walls as a result of a collision with another boat or other object.  This can cause fractured bones and/or torn ligaments.

Guidelines For Drinking And Boating Safely

The Dangers Of Alcohol And Boating In FloridaWhile it is not illegal to have a drink or two while out on the boat, everybody needs to be aware of the laws and potential penalties that come into play when it comes to drinking and boating. In order to stay safe, boaters should stick to the same guidelines as for drinking and driving a car. Just like drinking and driving, there is technically no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed before operating a boat. With that said, it’s probably best to avoid boating while drinking. Make sure you have enough water and non-alcoholic beverages on the boat to stay properly hydrated. Being out in the sun all day can be exhausting, and if you’re not well hydrated, the sun can have more of an effect on the amount of time you spend out on the water. Drinking lots of water can extend the fun. Be sure to head back to land long before fatigue sets in. When someone is planning to operate a boat, it is best to abstain from drinking alcohol altogether.  If drinking is involved before operating a boat, make sure that the operator has had enough time between their last drink and the time the boat starts.

Talking With a Boating Accident Attorney In Florida

Being a victim in a boating accident is a serious matter. At Sheftall Law, we understand how serious and scary it is to be in a boating accident. Lost wages from having to miss out on work and hospital bills building up is an added stressor that you don’t deserve. With decades of combined experience, we have the legal knowledge necessary to take care of your needs and rights in these trying times and we will stand by your side until you receive the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident in Florida, please contact a boating accident attorney at Sheftall Law at (904) 569-6025 today to explore the legal options that are available to you.