Florida Examining Boating Safety Laws
Boating is an important part of Florida culture year-round. While boats provide fun and recreation for Floridians and tourists alike, like any other motor vehicle, they also comes with the risk of accidents and injuries. According to a report published by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement, 736 boat accidents occurred in Florida waters in 2013 alone—by far the highest of any state in the country. As a result of those accidents, 62 people died and an additional 420 people suffered injuries.
Worst Boat Accident in Years
Over the 4th of July weekend in 2014, a 32-foot boat carrying four young adults collided at a high speed with a 36-foot boat carrying eight family members. Many passengers were either knocked unconscious or thrown into the ocean. Four people died and three more suffered critical injuries. Following this accident, Florida authorities have called for the need for stricter boating safety laws in the state.
Authorities plan to ramp up efforts to enforce boating under the influence of alcohol laws. Boaters are allowed to drink on the water, however the individuals driving the boats are still subject to the same limitations as drivers of cars—the legal limit is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) or 0.02 percent BAC for drivers under age 21. Enforcing these limits is more difficult on the water, especially in crowded gatherings at sandbars, in which many boats anchor and tether to spend the day partying together. The 32-foot boat that caused the above tragic accident had spent the day at such a sandbar party. There was alcohol on the boat, though police are waiting for toxicology results on the deceased driver to know if he was under the influence.
Over the Labor Day holiday weekend and other popular boating weekends, local law enforcement around Florida plan to set up checkpoints to crack down on boaters who are under the influence. Additionally, marine officials plan to patrol sandbar gatherings much more closely to try to identify potentially dangerous behavior and monitor drinking among those who plan to drive the boat back to shore.
Finally, in the long term, authorities are discussing developing new requirements for boat safety training. Currently, most people require no training or license to operate a boat, while younger people must complete only a short course online with no physical training or testing. With the increasing size and potential speeds of modern boats, authorities believe more training may curb accidents.
Call an Experienced Boca Raton Attorney Today
If you have suffered injury in a boating accident because a boat driver had been drinking or engaging in another type of negligent behavior, an experienced personal injury attorney at Lavalle Brown & Ronan, P.A. in Boca Raton can help you recover for your injury-related losses.
Additionally, if you have been arrested on the suspicion of boating under the influence, one of our experienced Boca Raton criminal defense attorneys can help you with your case. Boating under the influence charges can have serious consequences, and a criminal defense lawyer from our firm will work to build an aggressive defense in your case.