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Boating Under the Influence

A Deerfield Beach man convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) manslaughter in October was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison, as  reported in The Palm Beach Post.  According to the report, 44-year-old Mandy J. Romeu was piloting his 34-foot Donzi powerboat on the Intracoastal Waterway when it crashed into a navigational marker.  Boynton Beach resident Christopher Smith, one of the two passengers on the boat, was thrown from the boat.  Mr. Smith later died at the hospital.  According to police reports, Mr. Romeu invited Mr. Smith onto his boat after a night of drinking. State officials claimed Mr. Romeu’s blood alcohol level was 0.132 after the accident.

In the State of Florida, it is a crime to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  While there is a great awareness about the dangers of driving a car under the influence (DUI), boating accidents can be just as serious.  Sadly, they are not at all uncommon.  The noise of the engine, the crash of the waves, the speed of the vessel and the general recreational nature of boating demand heightened attention when piloting the boat.  Like a motorcycle, boats are typically unenclosed, creating a greater risk of being thrown from the deck.  All these factors, and many others, make operating a vessel while in a state of inebriation a recipe for disaster.

Just as in the case of DUI, a BUI conviction can result in fines and even prison.  When a boating accident results in death, the operator can face criminal charges for BUI manslaughter, with convictions often carrying long prison sentences.   In the State of Florida, vessel homicide can also be a first-degree offense if the party responsible fails to give information and render aid, even if they were not aware that anyone died because of the accident.

If you or a family member has been injured in a boating accident, particularly where a vessel operator was impaired by alcohol or drugs, please contact one of our experienced boat accident attorneys. We can review your case and help you get the compensation to which you are entitled by law.

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