News Releases

Don't drive a boat impaired

News Release

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426

Here's a tip for boaters this Labor Day weekend: Don't drink or do drugs and then drive a boat.

"It doesn't make sense to captain a boat if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs," said Maj. Paul Ouellette, law enforcement commander for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) 12-county Northeast Region. "The intoxicating effects are intensified by the motion, water, waves and glare, and driving under these conditions puts everyone on the boat and in its path in potential danger."

FWC law enforcement officers take boating under the influence very seriously and will be out in force this holiday weekend looking for impaired boaters.

"We want to get them off the waterways before they hurt themselves or someone else, and before they get on the road drunk, hauling their boats home after a day on the water," said Ouellette.

A person becomes impaired and loses the ability to make sound decisions and react quickly long before most people consider that person "drunk."

"They may be able to stand without swaying and even appear perfectly sober, but their reaction time is slowed and they could pose an imminent danger to passengers and other boaters," said Ouellette.
Here are a few legalities to keep in mind when it comes to alcohol, drugs and boating:

  • It is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or drugs.  A vessel operator suspected of BUI must submit to sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test to determine blood- or breath-alcohol content.
  • In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if his or her blood- or breath-alcohol level is at or above 0.08.
  • Any person less than 21 years of age who is found to have a breath-alcohol level of 0.02 or higher and operates or is in actual physical control of a vessel is in violation of Florida law.
  • Adults operating a boat under the influence when a person under 18 is on board will be charged with enhanced penalties. 
  • A previous DUI conviction, combined with a BUI conviction counts as two convictions, increasing possible fines and jail time.
  • A person's right to operate a vessel on the waters of the state will be terminated if convicted.

Please report drunk or otherwise impaired boaters to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. You may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if your information leads to an arrest. The Hotline is open 24-hours a day, every day.

FWC Facts:
The FWC has teamed with other conservation organizations to offer youth hunts that are safe, educational and very affordable.

Learn More at AskFWC