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Impaired Boating – A Leading Factor in 2021 Fatal Boating Accidents

December 1, 2022 | Category: Blog, Boating

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) continues to report that alcohol was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in the United States in 2021 (the latest available statistics).

Impaired Boating - A Leading Factor in 2021 Fatal Boating AccidentsThere were 751 Florida boating accidents in 2021, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) arrested 93 boaters for boating under the influence (BUI). The FWC data also showed that 59 of the accidents involved fatalities. Alcohol and/or drug use was reported to have played a role in 23 percent of these 59 accidents. There were also boating accident injuries to 49 people in Florida in 2021 that were caused by alcohol and/or drugs.

WGCU/PBS reported on May 20, 2022, that Lee County was ranked 3rd among Florida’s 67 counties in the number of registered recreational boats and 4th in boating accidents.

The USCG is on the alert for boaters who are boating under the influence. When the USCG encounters them, it may terminate the voyage, impound the boat, and may arrest the operator. The penalties vary but can include fines, jail, and the loss of boating or even driving privileges.

Florida law prohibits boaters from boating under the influence (BUI). It is illegal to operate any vessel or to manipulate any water skis, sailboard, or similar device while intoxicated due to alcohol or any combination of alcohol, a controlled substance, or drugs.

The USCG reminds boaters on its website that:

  • The federal BAC legal limit for operating a vessel under the influence is .08.
  • Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time.
  • Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion — “stressors” common to the boating environment— intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
  • Alcohol use can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
  • Alcohol is dangerous for passengers too. Intoxication can cause slips, falls overboard, and other dangerous accidents.
  • If boaters are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are endangering their lives and the lives of others.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for Boating Accidents Caused by BUI?

Generally, negligent boat operators are responsible for injuries and/or tragic fatalities caused by their direct actions or inactions. They are negligent when they do not act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. Failing to follow the safety rules of not allowing alcohol and/or drugs on their boats could constitute negligence and make them liable for accidents. These accidents could include passengers on their boats, and those on other boats should they collide. If boat operators are under the influence and strike water skiers or any other people or vessels on the water, they are negligent.

What Should Victims of BUI Boating Accidents Do?

“After an accident caused by the negligence of a boat operator, accident victims should seek medical assistance and follow the advice of their physician. Then consult the experienced Fort Myers Boating Accident Attorney Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. He and his team know the special federal and state maritime laws that may apply along with the time limitations for filing a claim. Maritime accidents cannot be handled by just any attorney because they are different from other accidents,” said Attorney Spivey.

Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. is available 24/7. Please contact Attorney Randall Spivey at 239.337.7483, toll-free at 1.888.477.4839, or online at There are no costs or attorney fees until we receive a monetary recovery for you.




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Spivey Law Firm Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. 13400 Parker Commons Blvd.
Fort Myers, Florida 33912

(239) 337-7483

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