You’ve seen it in movies, TV shows, and among your fellow boaters. Drinking alcohol on boats is not an uncommon sight, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t strict laws surrounding who is drinking, how much they’ve had to drink, and how they are conducting themselves on the boat. We’ll cover the basics of Florida’s laws regarding drinking alcohol on a boat.
Florida law specifically and clearly states that anyone operating a boat or using boating accessories like water skis, sailboards, or any similar device while intoxicated is breaking the law. As most Floridians know, the state considers a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher to be intoxicated. While that is the legal limit that is tested for, the law also states that a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to 0.08 accompanied by other abnormal or dangerous behavior may also be considered under the influence.
Any person operating a vessel on Florida waters is eligible to be tested for drugs or alcohol if an officer requests, which means it’s not subject to dangerous or risky behavior or any other factors. Anyone who refuses to testing can be fined $500.
Of course, the laws outlined to this point are only for those above the legal drinking age of 21 years old. For anyone underage, any measurable amount of alcohol, typically measured at 0.02 or higher, are subject to an underage drinking citation with minimum mandatory sentencing.
In the end, the rules of drinking and boating are similar to those on the road in Florida. Although Florida law doesn’t specifically state that the operator of a vessel can’t consume alcohol, doing so is risky and dangerous to you and others if you aren’t sure that your blood alcohol concentration is below the legal limit. While your passengers may indulge, it’s important they practice good boating etiquette and allow the driver to focus on navigating the boat.