Clearwater Boat DUI Accident Lawyer
Everyone knows the risks of driving a car while intoxicated. We have all seen–or been personally affected by–such reckless behavior. But what you may not appreciate is that “boating under the influence” (BUI) can also lead to serious and even deadly accidents.
While a common image of the Florida boater is someone hanging out with their friends while draining a six-pack, the reality is that it is illegal to operate any type of watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And if intoxicated boating leads to an accident, the victims have a right to take legal action and seek compensation for their injuries. Clearwater boat DUI accident lawyer Frank D. Butler has represented many clients who have been harmed by the thoughtless actions of those who think alcohol and boating are a safe mix.
Civil vs. Criminal Liability for a Drunk Boating Accident
A boating accident may involve both civil and criminal liability. Criminal liability attaches because of Florida’s laws governing boating under the influence. Similar to a DUI involving a car or truck, a person is guilty of BUI if they operate any vessel that is “used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water” while affected by alcohol or drugs to the extent that a person’s “normal faculties are impaired.” The common test for intoxication is a boat operator’s blood-alcohol content (BAC). If the operator’s BAC is 0.08 percent or greater, then they are intoxicated as a matter of law.
Civil liability does not require proof of a crime, only negligence. And driving a boat while legally drunk qualifies as negligence. Even if an operator is never criminally charged or they never failed a BAC test, they can still be held accountable in a personal injury lawsuit if there is sufficient evidence of intoxicated or reckless behavior leading to an accident.
In some cases, other parties may also be civilly liable for a drunk boating accident. For example, if a boat owner loaned or rented their boat to someone who was visibly intoxicated, they may also be responsible for any injuries sustained by accident victims. A person or business that furnishes alcohol to a minor or someone habitually addicted to alcohol may also be responsible for an accident under Florida’s Dram shop laws.
Contact Attorney Frank D. Butler Today
Boating DUI accidents may not get the same amount of media attention as drunk driving crashes involving cars. But a boating accident is just as serious. Victims are often left with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills and lost income. A drunk boater can and should be held responsible for these and other legal damages, including the victims’ ongoing pain and suffering and emotional trauma.
So if you have been injured in an accident and you believe alcohol or drugs played a role, it is imperative you speak with a skilled Clearwater DUI boat accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the offices of Frank D. Butler, P.A., today to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.