According to the U.S. Coast Guard, drunken boating is responsible for more fatal accidents that any other factor. More states are enacting harsher penalties for drunken boating. For instance, boaters who are caught with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher in Florida are subject to penalties similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. A first offense carries with it a fine up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 6 months. A second offense brings with it a fine up to $2,000 and imprisonment up to 9 months. If a person’s blood alcohol level is found to be much higher than the legal limit, offenders face more serious charges including required substance abuse treatment courses and mandatory community service.
These harsh penalties are put in place because drunk boaters pose a very real and serious risk to other people out on the water. On January 20th, a drunken boater received a jail sentence of 5 to 15 years for causing an accident that left two people dead. Brandon Verfaillie who was responsible for the deadly accident expressed his regret. His speedboat slammed into a cabin cruiser on the St. Clair river. He was found to be drunk at the time.
Thanks to Boaters Against Drunk Driving, more states have enacted harsher penalties for boaters who choose to drive while under the influence. Boaters Against Drunk Boating has also been monitoring drunk boating cases throughout the U.S. to ensure that boaters who are accused of drinking and boating are convicted and sentenced for their offense.
Alcohol affects an individual’s judgment and reaction time. Elevated blood alcohol levels also affect a person’s vision. According to Boaters Against Drunk Driving, individuals with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 or higher are ten times more at risk of dying in a boating accident than sober boaters.
Unfortunately, a culture of acceptance of drinking and boating creates dangerous situations out on the water. Popular music videos portray celebrities drinking while on board boats and individuals come to perceive drinking and boating as part of a normal good time out on the water. The idea of drinking a six pack and fishing, can create tragedies out on the water.
In 2012, ten-year-old, Tony Borcia was swimming in a red life preserver when he was run over by a drunken boater. His family has started a non-profit organization called Y-not, to help boaters find a designated boater when they go out and drink. The organization encourages safe boating, promotes greater patrols to stop drunken boating, and increase penalties for offenders of multiple BUIs.
However, it is still in a victim’s best interests to consult with an experienced boating accident lawyer to determine if victims have a viable case. In many cases, when an accident is caused by a boater’s careless actions, such as the consumption of alcohol, victims may be able to obtain compensation. A boating accident attorney can analyze the situation at hand and protect a victim’s right to justice.