Intoxicated boater causes fatal crash; convicted of BUI

November 19th, 2012 - by DKRPA

Boating accidents are almost always serious in nature. Boats are more difficult to maneuver then most other motor vehicles; they can travel fast speeds; should an accident occur, the victims are usually tossed into the water, making their recovery and safety difficult to ensure.

When they do happen, though, most of them are simply accidents. The driver was not intending for a crash to occur — but that doesn’t always negate their liability in the matter. There are many rules governing boat ownership and operation. Certain sections of lakes and open water have speed and proximity rules that, if violated, make the operator of the vessel liable in an accident.

Sadly, sometimes there are boating accidents with clear signs of negligence — and one was recently handled by a Palm Beach County jury, which convicted a 44-year-old man of boating under the influence and vessel homicide.

The accident occurred in 2010, when the man was operating the boat with two other people on board. He crashed the boat in an area deemed a “slow speed minimum wake area” — he was going 30 miles per hour at the time and had a blood alcohol level measured at 0.137 and 0.132 hours after the accident. The boat slammed into a Coast Guard beacon, sending a 31-year-old man into the water. He died from the wreck.

Did the 44-year-old want this to happen? Of course not. It was an accident, and he surely feels terrible about it. But, he made a reckless and irresponsible decision to take his life and the lives of two others into his own hands when he piloted a boat while drunk. Regardless of intent, he is liable for his criminal act (he faces 11 to 15 years in prison); and, with this conviction, he could also be held liable in civil court by the victim’s family.

Source: Sun Sentinel, “Jury convicts Deerfield Beach man of BUI manslaughter,” Marc Freeman, Oct. 26, 2012

To learn more about boating accidents, please visit our Palm Beach personal injury page.