News Releases

Don't operate that boat while impaired

News Release

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Media contact: Karen Parker or Officer Jeff Summers, 386-758-0525

During this Labor Day weekend, enjoy the waterways but don't drink or do drugs and then operate that boat.

With the final long weekend of summer approaching, officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will be patrolling the rivers and lakes in north Florida, checking for those who are boating under the influence and for under-aged drinkers.

"If you're impaired, don't get behind the wheel of either a vessel or a vehicle," said Maj. Lee Beach, law enforcement commander for the FWC's 17-county North Central Region. "If you operate a vessel while under the influence, the effects are intensified by the motion, water, waves and glare. This puts your passengers and everyone in the boat's path in potential danger."

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

"We certainly want everyone to enjoy themselves and have a great time on our beautiful waterways in North Florida. However, if someone is impaired, we want to get them off the water 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 Beach.

Beach added that in addition to BUIs, FWC officers will be checking for resource violations such as fishing without a license, and enforcing the manatee zones and limited-access areas.

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 while 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:
Sea turtles range in size from the 75- to 100-pound Kemp’s ridley to the 1,300-pound, 8-foot-long leatherback.

Learn More at AskFWC