A fun day on the water can quickly turn into tragedy if a boat operator makes the poor decision to drink and drive. Although the majority of boat operators obey the law and refrain from drinking, just like vehicle drivers – far too many boat operators are guilty of boating under the influence, resulting in serious and deadly boating accidents.
When a boat operator drinks alcohol, their judgment, balance, vision, and coordination are affected. This is why boating under the influence is illegal. The maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent, just like it is for operating vehicles on the road.
Boating while under the influence (BUI) may be even more dangerous than driving on a road because of factors like currents, wave sizes, depth of the water, direction of the wind, and objects that are submerged under the water. There are no lights, “traffic” signs, and lanes directing boat operators where to go. Many vessels do not have lights, either, to help the driver see well at night. Making matters even more dangerous is that the rocking of the vessel, noise on the water, wind, and sun can actually intensify the effects of the alcohol.
Alcohol and Boating Laws
Many boat operators are not fully aware of just how much trouble they can be in for drinking and boating. An operator can be cited even if their BAC is not over the legal limit of .08 if law enforcement thinks they are operating the vessel in a dangerous way and putting other people at risk.
It’s not just motorized vessels that fall under the boating while under the influence laws. Anyone operating a canoe, rowboat, sailboat, or speedboat can be charged with BUI. Boat operators who are on prescribed medications that can affect their judgment and response time can make a perilous situation for anyone on the waterway with that boat operator and also lead to a BUI charge.
BUI laws are just like DUI laws. In most states, the first two offenses are charged as misdemeanors, however if you are charged with an aggravated BUI, you will be facing felony charges. This can lead to hefty fines and even jail time in some cases. If your boating license is revoked, your driver’s license may be as well.
Boating Accident Liability
The law allows victims of personal injury cases to pursue for financial compensation from the at-fault party for the losses their injuries cause them. This also applies to boating accidents. A victim can sue the boat operator for damages. Boating accidents can be more complex than other types of personal injury cases and victims should consult with a boating accident attorney. Call a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Patterson Bray to schedule a case evaluation to find out how a legal team can help.