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DUIs and drugs in Florida: Zero tolerance

You're probably familiar with DUIs and drug-related DUIs. They both can get you into deep trouble with the law, especially if you are behind the wheel while impaired.

What people often forget about is that alcohol and drug use can also result in BUIs for boating under the influence. Alcohol specifically played a role in at least 28 of the boating crashes that happened in Florida last year. Drug use and drinking alcohol is suspected to have been involved in around 19 percent of boating fatalities in 2018.

Florida law enforcement is getting stricter this summer boating season in the hope of reducing the number of people who are going to be hurt or killed by drunk or drugged boaters. Though BUIs are not the most common cause of boating crashes, they are a factor in many collisions. Other factors that lead to collisions on the water include dangerous weather, operator inexperience and inattention.

Authorities claim they'll have zero tolerance this summer

In 2019, the Florida law enforcement officers claim that they will have no tolerance for people who violate the laws on the water. Drunken boating is punishable in the same way as driving your vehicle while intoxicated. While it is legal to drink on board, driving while intoxicated can lead to the loss of your boating license and result in fines. Interestingly, though, boating licenses aren't required in the state. That leaves many people facing fines alone.

Despite the somewhat minor penalties for a BUI, there is still the potential for serving jail time along with monetary fines. In some cases, additional charges can be filed against you if you cause injuries or deaths. BUI arrests carry similar penalties to DUIs in general.

In 2018, law enforcement officers issued 565 citations to boaters who were driving their vessels while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That was a significant increase, up from 388 in 2017.

If you plan to go boating, try to plan to have at least one sober person on board. Everyone wants to relax and have a good time while on the water, but too many drinks or a combination of drinks, heat and medications could lead to serious injuries or death.

It's not worth the risk to drink and boat or to combine your medications with alcohol while in charge of a vessel. If you are accused of a BUI, you will still need to take time to defend yourself.

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