The long Labor Day weekend is synonymous with outdoor barbeques, beaches, boats – and an uptick in fatalities attributed to drunken driving and impaired boating.
Without fail, our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers have noted there are always revelers who will take it too far. We might expect a higher-than-usual number of injuries and fatalities, given the reduced price of gasoline this summer. That means more people will be taking longer trips, and boaters will be out on the water for longer.
As they have always done this time of year, law enforcement will be heavily patrolling the roadways, on the lookout for drivers who are impaired or otherwise acting aggressively or recklessly. And as usual, they will be patrolling the waterways as well. However, the enforcement on the latter front may be a bit heavier than in years’ past, in light of the horrific Fourth of July boating crash that killed four people and injured several others on the Biscayne Bay. Officials are desperate to avoid a repeat.
The mayor of Miami-Dade County recently announced the formation of a multi-agency task force to address this issue. The enforcement will include federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies that will team up to scour the waters for drunken skippers. When asked exactly how many there would be officials answered, “A lot.”
Although it’s not illegal to drink and boat, those who operate a vessel with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher can be arrested for BUI (with consequences similar to a DUI). If someone is under the age of 21, the limit is 0.02 percent.
Some safety advocates have called for the elimination of so-called “floating bars” that serve alcohol in the water. So far, however, that has not come to fruition.
Florida is No. 1 in terms of the number of registered boaters, and also has by far the largest number of boating accidents, injuries and deaths. Last year, there were 736 accidents, resulting in 420 injuries and 62 deaths. Compare that to California, which has double Florida’s population, where there were half as many accidents that year.
Meanwhile on our roadways, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports every 51 minutes, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. But on Labor Day weekend, that figure soars to a death every 34 minutes.
Night is especially dangerous. Based on historical data, half of the deaths tallied over the weekend nights will be attributed to a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. By comparison, about one quarter of those that occur during the day will be the fault of an impaired driver.
Florida tends to report a higher number of injuries and fatalities than most other places because it is a prime destination, with many folks traveling in from out-of-town to enjoy one last “hurrah” before the end of summer.
Our South Florida injury lawyers would strongly encourage both drivers and boaters this Labor Day to either refrain from drinking, or designate a sober driver or operator. The consequences of doing otherwise are far too steep.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Safety Advocates Call for Florida to Curb Floating Watering Holes, Aug. 26, 2014, By Lizette Alvarez, The New York Times
More Blog Entries:
Court: Federal Maritime Law Won’t Apply to DUI Case, July 6, 2014, Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyer Blog