As boating season ramps up in Florida, it’s important for boating enthusiasts to understand the laws related to this popular outdoor activity. Many boat owners are not aware of all of the important safety rules and regulations that could result in an expensive citation, an arrest, or, in the worse case scenario, their need for a manslaughter defense attorney in Tampa. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common ways that a sunny day on the water can turn into a dark day in a prison cell.
For more information on Florida boating rules and regulations please visit the website of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC).
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Although boating activities may appear to be more relaxing than driving an automobile, it’s important for boaters to remember that if they are operating their vessel impaired then the same laws apply as driving in their car on the highway. If a driver is suspected of being under the influence, law enforcement has the right to request that the operator of the vessel takes a sobriety test. In Florida, if the operator of the vessel is at or above the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 then they are over the legal limit.
Reporting Boating Accidents
Florida has the highest fatality rate of boating accidents of any state in the United States. Because of this unfortunate fact, it’s important for boaters to understand the situations that need to be reported immediately. As it states on the FFWCC’s website, any “injury beyond immediate first-aid, death, disappearance of any person under any circumstances which indicate death or injury, or damage to the vessel(s) and/or personal property of at least $2,000” needs to be reported to either the FFWCC or the local sheriff’s office immediately after transpiring.
There are several instances where operating a vessel under the influence can result in a felony arrest. If you are at or over the .08 BAC legal limit and are involved in an accident that resulted in another party experiencing a significant injury, you may be charged with a third-degree felony. If you are driving over the legal limit and the accident results in the death of another person, you may be charged with a second-degree felony. Depending on the circumstances of a death-related accident, this could also be increased to a first-degree felony charge if a higher degree of negligence transpired.
For more information on the Florida laws pertaining to BUI manslaughter, please review the Florida Statutes related to vessel safety.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.