Summer is on its way – what better place to get your boat on the water than Clearwater, Florida? Nobody does summer fun in the sun and water better than residents of Clearwater but when it comes to boating accidents, it’s important to be aware of the risks. While frolicking on the water is extremely fun, it’s also necessary to be responsible about boating safely, which includes remaining sober when you’re the person responsible for driving the boat.
Drinking and driving a boat is both dangerous and illegal. The person driving the boat is considered a motorist, who holds a duty to operate the vessel safely. Boats are typically larger and heavier than non-commercial vehicles and they operate on the open playing field of the waterways. This may feel more free than driving on a road, but some irresponsible boaters don’t pay attention to the rules. Safely operating a boat demands at least as much attention to safety as operating a vehicle on the roadway.
Boating accidents can be especially traumatic. Heading out on a boat is the ultimate relaxation activity and if you’re injured instead, it can make the situation that much more difficult to manage. Boating accidents nevertheless happen. If you’ve been in a boating accident, you should find the right attorneys to represent you. The legal team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Clearwater has the skill, knowledge, and determination to help effectively and efficiently guide your boating accident claim toward the best resolution possible. Our dedicated boating accident attorneys are here to help.
Boating Under the Influence
Florida sees plenty of boating traffic and takes its boating under the influence (BUI) laws seriously. The penalties for operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that’s over 0.08 percent are significant:
- A fine of between $500 and $1,000 for a first conviction
- A fine of between $1,000 and $2,000 for a second conviction
- Imprisonment of not more than six months for a first conviction
- Imprisonment of not more than nine months for a second conviction
Moreover, if a boat driver has a prior driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, the penalties for subsequent BUI convictions may increase. There are also federal BUI laws that kick in when the arrest is made off the U.S. shorelines of Florida. Further, boaters who are under 21 face much stricter alcohol limitations.
Coast Guard Statistics on Drunk Boating
The United States Coast Guard maintains highly detailed statistics as they relate to boating accidents throughout the country, and the State of Florida saw the highest number of total boating accidents – by a significant margin – every year from 2012 to 2016. Florida also saw the highest number of fatal boating accidents – again by a considerable margin – in those same years. The U.S. Coast Guard also finds that in fatal boating accidents, alcohol use is most prevalent contributing factor. In fact, where the primary cause is known, alcohol use is the primary cause of 15 percent of boating deaths. Ultimately, the Coast Guard determines that boating under the influence of alcohol increases the odds by 34 percent that a boating fatality will occur.
Drunk Boat Operators
When it comes to bringing BUI charges, things are a bit more complicated than they are in DUI cases. While it’s readily apparent who’s in control of a car, this isn’t always the case when it comes to a boat. The term “operate” refers to the person who’s in charge of, in command of, or in actual physical control of the boat – even if the operator has stepped away from the steering wheel.
When people take their boats out, they’re often not simply driving a few miles from dinner to home. Instead, they’re typically in it for the entire day. Boating is a journey that boaters commit to for long periods of time. This, coupled with the party atmosphere that surrounds fun on the water around ClearwaterBeach, means that boat operators are more likely to also spend the time that they’re operating the boat enjoying alcoholic beverages – sometimes throughout the entire day. When you drive a car, you know very well that drinking and driving are a dangerous combination. Very few drivers drink and drive vehicles for the fun of it. Boating is a different story.
Many boaters adopt the attitude that drinks and boats simply go together. This is a dangerous attitude. In fact, passengers on boats are more susceptible to incurring injuries in an accident. After all, they’re not buckled in, and the impact of an accident can send them flying into the water, into the interior of the boat, or into the motor. When boaters captain their vessels, it’s imperative that they take the job, and the lives of their passengers and crew, seriously. Not to do so endangers everyone on the water.
If You’ve Been Injured by a Drunk Boater, Consult With Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Clearwater Today
Clearwater, Florida, is a boater’s paradise. If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, however, it’s a different story. The dedicated team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Clearwater, Florida, understands how traumatic and overwhelming these accidents can be, and we’re here to help. Our experienced boat accident attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and determination to help prove that a drunk boater caused your injuries and help you recover just compensation. Please contact or call us at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation today.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765