Investigating authorities report that boating under the influence (BUI) was the cause of a July 4th jet ski accident by the Sanibel Causeway. An adult and two children, ages 4 and 10, were hurt in the crash, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Lee County Sheriff’s Office. A 28-year-old man was arrested at the scene for BUI.
In 2018, there were over 48 thousand personal watercrafts (PWCs) registered in Lee County, 22.6 thousand registered in Collier County, and 22.9 thousand registered in Charlotte County.
Jet Skis are PWCs. By definition, PWCs are small vessels that use inboard jet drives as their primary source of propulsion, and they are designed to be operated by a person, or persons, sitting, standing or kneeling on the vessel, rather than inside the vessel. PWCs are subject to all the same laws and requirements of any other vessel, plus a few laws specific to them.
Florida law says that it is illegal to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, and a vessel operator suspected of BUI must submit to a sobriety test and a physical or chemical test to determine blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol content. The same alcohol levels used for on-land vehicles apply to boats and other water vehicles.
FWC says, “All operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard for other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, the presence of a divers-down flag and other circumstances so as not to endanger people outside of the vessel or property. Failure to do so is considered careless operation. Anyone who operates a vessel with willful disregard for the safety of persons or property will be cited for reckless operation (a first-degree misdemeanor).”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says that in 2015, a Kentucky victim of BUI spoke out about her experience with a BUI boat operator:
“When she was 13 years old, she was on a jet ski on Lake Herrington in Danville, Kentucky, when a bass boat, going over 60 miles an hour, ran into her, flipping the boat and landing on top of her. When Fish and Wildlife showed up on the scene and arrested the man, he was three times over the legal limit two hours later. The teen shattered her jaw, broke her neck and collarbone, shattered both femurs, and lacerated her liver. She was in a coma for 4 days, and the prognosis didn’t look good. When she woke up, she found that she had lost her right leg. Five years later, she is working to make BUI a bigger priority in her state of Kentucky.”
“We have seen the devastation caused by boating and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Should you or a loved one be injured because of the negligence of another, please contact our experienced team. We are always available to assist,” said Fort Myers Boat Accident Attorney Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
Fort Myers Boat Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.