Boat operators who drive drunk are a serious threat to all those on the water. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, drunk driving is the leading cause of boat accidents in the United States, resulting in an estimated 100 fatalities each year. The Insurance Information Institute claims that over one half of all fatal boating accidents are caused by drunk driving. Boating under the influence (BUI) increases the risk of a fatal boat accident by 34 percent.
Boating Under the Influence
Motor vehicle drivers are aware of the laws against drunk driving. What many boaters fail to realize is that the same laws against driving a motor vehicle while drunk apply to operating a boat. Car drivers with a blood alcohol limit of 0.08 percent are considered legally drunk and face stiff fines and penalties, which in some cases result in jail time. The same holds true for boat operators.
In many cases, boat operators are on the water for a day of fun and relaxation, which for some, encourages alcohol consumption. While some enjoy fishing, others enjoy cruising, water skiing, towing floats, or just kayaking or canoeing. Anyone operating a water vessel, including a kayak or canoe with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent is guilty of boating under the influence (BUI). A boat need not have an engine or motor to be subject to BUI laws; even row boats, jet skis, kayaks, and canoes are held to the same laws.
Penalties for operating a boat under the influence of alcohol include:
- Suspended boating license
- Criminal charges
- Suspension of state driving license
- Insurance surcharges
- Vessel impoundment
- Court issued drug or alcohol treatment program
- Community service
Underage boat operators guilty of BUI are subject to increased penalties. Refusing to be tested for the presence of alcohol can result in misdemeanor charges that carry financial penalties or jail time.
Boat Safety Tips
Boat operators should follow the same guidelines that car drivers follow to avoid serious and fatal drunk driving accidents. Boat operators and passengers that drink alcoholic beverages while on a boat run the risk of serious injury and in some cases, death. The following safety tips can help keep everyone safe.
- Limit the amount of alcohol brought onto the boat to ensure no one has the potential of getting legally intoxicated.
- Provide food on board that helps reduce the effects of alcohol.
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure when drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Have plenty of bottled water onboard the boat.
- Remain seated at all times.
- Refrain from swimming, water skiing, or rafting if you are consuming alcohol.
- Keep an eye out for those who are drinking excessively and provide alternate activities to encourage eating or drinking non-alcoholic beverages.
- Prevent the boat operator from driving if they have been drinking alcohol.
- Have a fully charged cell phone with you at all times to call for help if needed
Cape May Maritime Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Represent Victims of Boating Accidents
If you have been a victim of a boating accident, call the Cape May maritime accident lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. at 888-999-1962, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina offices serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.