It was late September when Miami Marlins’ star pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends were killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach. Now, the latest report from the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office is that Fernandez was legally drunk with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.147, and he also had cocaine in his system. However, authorities have not yet been able to determine who exactly was driving the boat at the time it crashed into a rocky jetty around 3:15 a.m. The two others who died had blood-alcohol levels that were below the legal limit. Fernandez was the owner of the boat.
Last year, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) there were 737 reported boating accidents, resulting in 55 deaths and 438 injuries. Miami-Dade County had the highest number of accidents and injuries (96 total accidents and 74 injuries and 3 fatalities), while May was the month with the most accidents overall (92). Alcohol or drug use was reported to have played a role in 19 percent of all fatal Florida boating accidents.
A pair of bills proposed during the 2015 state legislative session would have aligned BUI (boating under the influence) with those of DUI (driving under the influence). As it now stands, both first- and second-time offenders of both crimes face the same amount in fines and jail time. However, DUI repercussions are lot more severe than those received for BUI. For example, BUI does not affect a person’s driving record. What’s more, BUI convictions are not considered to be “prior convictions” in future DUI cases. Additionally, BUI convictions aren’t reported to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. To treat these two offenses the same, said state Rep. Gayle Harrell, sponsor of one measure, “just made a lot of sense.” Continue reading