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Can You Consume Alcohol While Operating a Boat in Florida?


For many boaters, drinking and spending a day on the water go hand in hand. Truthfully, though, boating under the influence is against the law and it can have deadly consequences. State law strictly prohibits people from operating a boat if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs. Impairment occurs when a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. Below, our Florida boat DUI accident attorney explains more.

Can You Drink While Operating a Boat in Florida? 

According to the Florida Statutes, it is against the law for a person to operate a boat while they are under the influence. However, as long as a person is of age, it is not illegal for a person to simply consume alcohol while they are operating a boat. As long as a person does not drink to the point of impairment, they can drink while operating a watercraft vessel. Just as when a person is driving a car, a boat operator is considered to be impaired if their BAC registers at 0.08 percent or more. Boat passengers can also consume alcohol if they are of legal age.

Is it Illegal for Open Containers to Be Present on a Boat? 

In Florida, it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle. This does not hold true for boats and other vessels. If there are open containers of alcohol and a law enforcement officer believes the operator is impaired, they can ask them to submit to a drug or alcohol test.

Penalties for Impaired Boat Operation 

Just as drivers face serious penalties for operating a vehicle while impaired, so too, do boat operators. The penalties for boating under the influence are as follows:

  • First conviction: A fine between $500 and $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.
  • Second conviction: A fine between $1,000 and $2,000 and imprisonment for up to nine months.

Boat operators convicted of a third or subsequent offense within ten years can be charged with a felony offense.

Can You Sue Someone for Boating Under the Influence?

 Just like any time someone acts negligently, you can sue someone who was boating under the influence and caused an accident that resulted in your injury. In Florida, you can file a BUI boating claim based on negligence per se. Negligence per se refers to the fact that someone violated the law.

Our Boat DUI Accident Attorney in Florida Can Assist with Your Case 

While it may seem as though boating under the influence is easy to prove, that is not always the case. At 888-BOAT-LAW (The Law Offices of Frank D. Butler, P.A.), our Florida boat DUI accident attorney can collect the necessary evidence to prove your claim so you recover the fair settlement that is rightfully yours. Call us today or chat with us online to schedule a consultation and to get more information.


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