Just as it has enacted laws regarding driving a motorized vehicle while intoxicated, Florida also penalizes Boating Under the Influence (BUI). Unfortunately, the nature of water-based activities can make it difficult to enforce the laws, so marine accidents involving alcohol are still a common problem. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), drunk or drugged boat operation plays a role in around 23% of boating fatalities. With the Fourth of July right around the corner and water-based fun being part of the celebration, you can be sure that the risk of BUI accidents will be high.
Victims do have legal options after being injured in a boating accident caused by impairment or any other form of negligence. A Miami boating and marine accidents lawyer can review your circumstances and explain the laws, since you may qualify for compensation. Still, it is wise to review some additional data to protect yourself and your family over this Fourth of July weekend.
Statistics on BUI and Boating Accidents
Probably the biggest threat to your safety in a boat collision is the fact that you are surrounded by water. FWCC confirms this assumption, reporting that 46% of all accidental boat deaths are due to falling overboard – making it the leading type of boating-related fatality. In addition:
- Collisions with another boat were the number one type of boat accident, at 27% of all incidents.
- In boating accidents where alcohol was a factor, 94% of injured victims were sober.
- The most common injuries to victims of boating accidents are lacerations, broken bones, and contusions.
- Almost 75% of all victims who were killed in boating accidents were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).
- More than 42% of victims suffered injuries due to being ejected from the watercraft upon impact.
- Miami-Dade County consistently ranks high on the list of Florida Top 10 Counties of Boating Accidents, falling at #2 in 2020.
How Alcohol Impacts Boat Safety
In short, impairment affects a person’s ability to safely operate a boat in the same way as it impacts driving a car. Even small amounts of alcohol can result in cognitive implications for judgment, behavior, and reaction time. The physical consequences are also severe, including lack of control and blurred vision.
Conditions on the water require keen visibility and smart decision-making. Plus, unlike an on-land vehicle, an operator must be in good physical condition to control the boat. When impaired, even a seasoned boater may be unable to maintain balance and steer. Occupants of the vessel are at risk, but so are other boaters, swimmers, and water users.
Trust a Miami Boating and Marine Accidents Attorney to Protect Your Rights
The threat of BUI is concerning with the Fourth of July coming up, but it is encouraging to know that you have legal remedies. Our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA can assist with pursuing them, so please contact our firm to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.