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Can You Drink While Boating in Florida?

January 09, 2024
Personal Injury

The Dangers and Penalties of Boating Under the Influence

Many boaters wonder whether they can drink while boating in Florida. The truth is that boating under the influence is not only illegal—it can be deadly. Florida law expressly prohibits operating a vessel while impaired by an alcoholic beverage or chemical substance. A person is presumed impaired if they have a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. Impaired operators are responsible for a large number of serious boating accidents each year.

Is It Illegal to Drive a Boat While Drinking in Florida?

According to the Florida Statutes Section 327.35, it is unlawful for a person to be boating under the influence. A person may be found guilty of boating under the influence if they are impaired by alcohol or a chemical substance. 

As when you are operating a vehicle, impairment is presumed if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. While boat operators may not drink while boating in Florida, passengers who are of legal drinking age can lawfully consume alcohol responsibly. 

Is It Unlawful to Have an Open Container of Alcohol on a Boat in Florida?

Unlike in a vehicle, it is not against the law to have an open container of alcohol on a vessel. However, the operator of a boat may be required to submit to an alcohol or drug test if a law enforcement officer suspects that they are under the influence.

What Are the Penalties for Operating a Vessel While Impaired?

A person who is found guilty of boating under the influence may face several penalties through the criminal justice system.

Punishments for boating under the influence in Florida include:

  • A fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000 (first conviction);
  • A fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000 (second conviction); and
  • Imprisonment for not more than 6 months (first conviction);
  • Imprisonment for not more than 9 months (second conviction).

A person convicted of a third or subsequent offense within 10 years may be convicted of a felony offense. Additionally, a person who causes or contributes to an accident causing serious bodily injury while boating under the influence may also face felony penalties.

Can I Sue Someone Who Was Boating Under the Influence?

If you suffered harm because a person was operating a vessel while impaired, you might be entitled to compensation through a civil lawsuit. While criminal penalties are designed to punish the operator for breaking the law, civil penalties are there to provide financial compensation to individuals who have suffered losses as a result of the wrongful conduct.

If you were involved in a boating accident that resulted from an impaired operator, you might be able to sue. The best way to ensure that you receive the maximum recovery allowed by law is by consulting an experienced attorney. 

Injured in a BUI Accident? Contact Our Office.

If you were injured in a boating under the influence accident, contact Mase Seitz Briggs at (844) 627-3529 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our attorneys have represented thousands of clients, recovering millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements.

Do not wait until it is too late. You only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against an operator who was drinking while boating in Florida. Call our office now to get the high-quality legal representation you deserve.

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