Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Arrests 93 Boaters Under the Influence

Surrounded by water on three sides, covered with numerous lakes, and blessed by abundant sunshine, Florida is a true boaters’ paradise. The Sunshine State has more registered boats than any other state, with over 1 million boats registered in the Sunshine State according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission (“FWC”). If you enjoy boating, then Florida is the place for you.

However, along with boats come boating accidents, many of which are caused by the consumption of alcohol or drugs by the boat’s operators. There were 751 boating accidents in Florida in 2021 according to FWC data. Of the 59 accidents in Florida involving fatalities in 2021, alcohol or drug use is reported to have played a role in 23%. Similarly, alcohol and/or drug use was the primary cause of boating accidents in which victims suffered 49 injuries in 2021.

Alcohol and boating clearly do not mix, so FWC ran its annual Operation Dry Out during the July 4th weekend from July 2-4 this year. During Operation Dry Out, FWC arrested 93 boaters for operating a boat under the influence, including several who had small children on board while they were operating a boat.

Florida Law Regarding Boaters Operating Under the Influence

Florida law regarding boating is similar to that concerning the operation of motor vehicles. For example, like the driver of any car, Florida law requires the operator of a boat to utilize ordinary care to keep his passengers as well as nearby boaters safe. If a boat’s operator is negligent in the operation of his vessel, then the boat operator can be sued for negligence under Florida law by either his own passengers or other boaters if the boater’s negligence results in an accident that injures or kills someone.

The rules relating to the consumption of drugs or alcohol that apply to motorists are also very similar to the rules that apply to the operation of a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A boater cannot operate a boat if he or she has a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or higher, the same level that motorists are required to maintain to avoid being arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Even a first offense for boating under the influence can carry with it a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine between $500 and $1,000.

If a boat’s operator is negligent in causing an accident and this negligence results in injuries to a third party, then the boating accident victim is entitled to recover any bills and expenses for medical treatment necessitated by his or injuries, any lost past or future wages caused by those injuries, as well as past and future pain and suffering caused to the victim by his or her injuries. If a passenger or another boater is killed by a Florida boater, then the victim’s estate as well as any survivors like a spouse and/or children can seek damages from the boater that caused the accident.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed, Adams, & McGinley, P.A.

Boating accidents can have devastating consequences for those involved. This can be a result of the fact that boating accidents typically mix high speeds, alcohol and sometimes even drugs in a combination that can have deadly consequences. During our more than 200 years of combined practice, the experienced personal injury lawyers of our firm have represented numerous victims of boating accidents in Florida, including those in which alcohol or drugs played a part. If you, a family member or a loved one has been injured or killed in a boating accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation today.