NEWS Boating Damage – A Major Contributor to Fatal Boating Accidents in 2021 – Personal Injury Law Blog by Randall L. Spivey

Let's Talk Drunk Driving Accidents - Auto Accident Law Blog By Michael John Tario

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) continues to report that alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents in the United States in 2021 (latest statistics available).

There were 751 boating accidents in Florida in 2021, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) made 93 arrests for intoxicated boaters (BUIs). FWC data also showed 59 crashes involved fatalities. Alcohol and/or drug use was reported to account for 23% of the 59 accidents. In 2021, another 49 people were injured in boating accidents involving alcohol and/or drugs in Florida.

WGCU/PBS reported on May 20, 2022 that Lee County ranks 3rd out of 67 Florida counties in the number of registered recreational boats and 4th in boating accidents.

USCG remains vigilant against boaters who drink and operate boats. When the USCG encounters them, it may terminate the voyage, seize the vessel and possibly arrest the operator. Penalties vary but can include fines, jail time and loss of boating or even driving privileges.

Florida law prohibits boaters from rowing under the influence of alcohol (BUI). It is illegal to operate any watercraft or maneuver any wakeboard, windsurfing or similar device while intoxicated by alcohol or any combination of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs.

USCG reminds boaters on its website:

  • The federal BAC legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08.
  • Drinking alcohol can impair a rower’s judgment, balance, eyesight and reaction time.
  • Sunlight, wind, noise, vibration and motion – common “stressors” in the boating environment – can exacerbate the effects of alcohol, drugs and certain medications.
  • Alcohol consumption increases fatigue and sensitivity to the effects of cold water immersion.
  • Alcohol is also dangerous for passengers. Being drunk can lead to slips, falls, and other dangerous accidents.
  • If boaters are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are endangering their own life and the lives of others.
  • Who can be held responsible for a boating accident caused by a BUI?

    In general, negligent vessel operators are liable for injury and/or tragic death resulting directly from their actions or omissions. When they don’t act like a reasonable person in the situation, they are remiss. Failure to follow safety rules that do not allow alcohol and/or drugs on board may constitute negligence and make them liable for accidents. These accidents could include passengers on their ship, as well as passengers on other ships, should they collide. If the boat operator is affected and hits the skier or any other person or boat on the water, they are negligent.

    What should a victim of a BUI boating accident do?

    After an accident caused by the negligence of the crew, the accident victim should seek medical assistance and follow the doctor’s advice. Then consult experienced Fort Myers boating accident attorney Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, PA He and his team understand the special federal and state maritime laws that may apply and the time limits for filing a claim. Maritime accidents are different from other accidents, and you cannot just find a lawyer to deal with them.

    Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Lawyers, Pennsylvania available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact Attorney Randall Spivey at 239.337.7483, toll free 1.888.477.4839 or visit We will not charge any fees or attorneys’ fees until we receive monetary compensation from you.

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