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Operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol in Florida

Boaters operating in Florida are subject to state laws governing the use of drugs or alcohol. It is a violation of Florida law to drive a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and operating a power craft in this way is a criminal offence.  Similarly, no one may water ski or use another aquaplaning device while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

Alcohol impairs judgment and coordination — two attributes essential for safe boating. A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test to determine blood- or breath-alcohol content. If you are operating a vessel on Florida waters, you automatically consent to be tested for drugs and alcohol if requested by a law enforcement officer, this is called “implied consent”.

At what breath alcohol level would a boater be considered under the influence in Florida?

In Florida, if a boater has a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, he/she shall be considered to be under the influence of alcohol.

Anyone convicted of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is liable to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 6 months in the county jail for a first offense provided that there were no other violations observed

Individuals convicted of Boating Under the Influence are placed on monthly probation by court, have their boating privileges revoked, required to complete a boating safety education course, required to complete a Violator boating safety course, and attend a substance abuse course specified by the court. The violator is also responsible for all costs incurred for meeting these requirements on top of the original fine.

Any person under 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.

It is strongly recommended that neither boat operators nor passengers drink alcoholic beverages while boating.

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