St. Petersburg Boat DUI Accident Lawyer
Recreational boating has long been associated with alcohol. Many people like to take their boat out, sit back, and enjoy a few beers with their friends. But it is important to keep in mind that a boat is still a vehicle, and an operator impaired due to alcohol or another intoxicating substance can still cause an accident.
Indeed, drunk boating is just as serious a civil and criminal offense as drunk driving. And if you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk boater, you have the legal right to seek compensation. St. Petersburg boat DUI accident lawyer Frank D. Butler has 30 years of experience in handling these types of maritime law cases. He and his team can represent you in suing a negligent boater and other third parties whose actions contributed to your accident.
Is a Drunk Boater Still Responsible for an Accident Even If They Never Face Criminal Charges?
Florida has laws governing “boating under the influence” (BUI) that largely mimic the statutes governing driving under the influence. Put simply, it is unlawful to operate a vessel of any type in Florida if you have a blood-alcohol (BAC) content of 0.08 percent or higher. It is even possible to be charged with BUI at a lower BAC if there are other visible signs of intoxication or drug use.
BUI is a criminal offense. This means that a first-time offender faces up to 6 months in jail if convicted. Additionally, if a drunk boater causes an accident that results in serious injury–or death–to another person, the charges can be elevated to a felony.
Now, this is where many boat DUI accident victims may get confused as to their rights. They might assume that a criminal conviction means they will also be compensated for their losses. Similarly, they might think that if the operator is never charged or convicted of a crime, that means they cannot file their own lawsuit.
Neither of these assumptions are correct. Civil and criminal law are separate matters. And the burden of proof in a criminal case is substantially higher than that in a civil personal injury claim. So an accident victim can sue and collect damages arising from a DUI boat accident regardless of whether any criminal case is brought against the operator. (It is possible for victims to obtain compensation through a criminal case, but it is not automatic.)
Contact Attorney Frank D. Butler Today
A boat traveling at high speed on the water is just as much a weapon as a car speeding down the interstate. If the person at the controls is compromised by the use of alcohol or drugs, they pose a threat to anyone who happens to be in their way. And the results are often catastrophic.
So if you have been seriously injured in a boat accident and you suspect that alcohol or drug use may be to blame, it is imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. To speak with a St. Petersburg DUI boat accident lawyer today, contact the offices of Frank D. Butler, P.A., at 888-BOAT-LAW.