The boating death of the Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez shocked and devastated the team and the community. Now, a toxicology report reveals Fernandez, 24, had a blood-alcohol level that was almost twice the legal limit and he also had cocaine in his system. His two friends, also killed in the boating accident, had alcohol in their systems too, though they were under the legal limit. Authorities opined the three died of blunt force trauma to the torso and head after the boat slammed into a jetty around 3:30 a.m.
We still don’t know at this point who was actually operating the boat. However, we do know, based on the latest boating statistics released by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that alcohol and/or drug use played a role in 1 out of every 5 boating fatalities in Florida last year. There were a total of 737 reportable boating accidents in 2015 (those that involved injuries or caused more than $2,000 in property damage). Florida has the most registered vessels in the nation – 916,000 – a figure that has been steadily growing with the economic recovery.
Although boating under the influence (BUI) is a crime by Florida law (F.S. 327.35), and penalties are somewhat similar to those for driving under the influence (DUI) (F.S. 316.193), there are some loopholes that lawmakers have been trying to close for sometime. As the Palm Beach Post recently reported, BUI enforcement and treatment under the law raises a number of complex questions. Continue reading →