Proposed Law Would Toughen Boating Under the Influence Penalties

Under current law, if a person is convicted of boating under the influence, that infraction would not go on a driver’s record. A Florida legislator aims to change that in the upcoming state legislative session. If passed, the proposed law would change Florida’s current boating under the influence laws and make it harder to hide the fact of a conviction in the future.

It seems that a focus of this upcoming legislative session is cracking down on drinking and driving. Already there are proposals to force drivers to take a breathalyzer test or face criminal sanctions, and this newest proposed bill is more evidence that the state’s representatives are taking drinking and operating a vehicle seriously.

What the Bill Would Do

A major component to this bill is that boating under the influence convictions would be counted as a typical DUI. That means that if you had a boating under the influence conviction on your record, and then were charged with a typical DUI, it would count towards an increased penalty. For example, first time DUI offenders face a fine of $500 - $1,000, but second time offenders face double that. Second time offenders similarly face stiffer jail sentences and penalties.

The need for this law is apparent. Florida has more recreational coastal waters than any other state, and therefore is in greater danger of boating accidents. Once alcohol is added to the mix, the danger of accident, injury, or worse is multiplied to an unacceptable degree. Another problem is that boating and drinking often go together as a way to pass the time and enjoy vacations. What can result is a dangerous mix of machinery, alcohol, and poor decision making.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida has the highest boating fatality rate in the country. In 2013 Florida had a record 32 boating accidents where alcohol was involved in one way or another. If passed, this bill might go a long way to prevent future accidents and protect Florida’s coastlines.

Florida’s Current Boating Under the Influence Laws

Florida’s current boating under the influence laws are straightforward. To be found guilty of boating under the influence, a person must be:

  • Operating a boat;

  • Impaired by the alcohol, or have a blood alcohol level of .08 or more.

If convicted fines are similar to a typical DUI charge. Fines of $500 - $1,000 for a first time offence, double for a second time offence, and jail time of six months or nine months, respectively. Additional convictions put the person in jeopardy of a felony and serious prison time.

Florida Laws Designed to Protect Victims of Alcohol Related Accidents

Fortunately for victims of alcohol related accidents, Florida’s laws are designed to help victims recover for their pain and suffering. If you have been injured in a boating or car accident which involved alcohol, contact us. At The Pittman Firm we use Florida’s laws to make negligent actors pay when they inflict injuries on Panama City Area residents.

See related blog posts: In an Accident With a Drunk Driver: Now What?; Can You Handle Your Own Personal Injury Case?.

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