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Boating Under Influence? Don’t Let a Little Fun on the Water Turn Into a Disaster

Summer is in full swing, and boating season down here in Alabama will last a couple more months. There’s still plenty of time to hit the lake and drop the boat in the water, and that usually comes with drinking.

Drinking a few beers on the boat is perfectly fine - unless you’re the operator. Then it becomes a dangerous game with lives at stake.

The Danger of Boating Under the Influence

People don’t understand just how dangerous boating can be without the driver being intoxicated.

658 people lost their lives and 2,629 were injured in boating-related incidents in 2017. Intoxicated boat drivers contribute to a number of tragedies that may have been prevented. Some individuals gave in to the pressure to drink while boating, and as a consequence, their lives were altered.

Boat operators are just as susceptible to accidents as vehicle drivers. In fact, the Coast Guard says that a boat operator can become impaired faster than a vehicle driver, drink for drink, thanks to the motion of the boat, the weather, the fatigue of handling a boat, spray, engine noise, and wind can all lead to more impairment.

The danger is real, but it’s deceptive. You’re on water, after all - what’s the worst that can happen?

Boating under the influence leads to worse judgment, slower reflexes, worse vision and coordination, and less balance. All of this leads to accidents like collisions - whether you’re hitting another boat, the shore, or an obstacle in the water - or capsizing.

In fact, the Coast Guard says that the majority of fatal boating accidents came when either the boat capsized or someone fell overboard due to the recklessness of the operator.

Another danger: boat operators are less experienced than vehicle drivers. Very few of us spend more time on the water than we do driving on land. The average boater only spends 110 hours on the water each year, compared to many times more hours on land behind the wheel. Drinking only exacerbates this inexperience.

Stay Safe on the Water

Boating under the influence is not only dangerous - it’s also illegal and can lead to fines, revocation of operator privileges and jail time.

Stay safe by obeying the same rules that you are hopefully following behind the wheel of a car: if you’ve been drinking, let someone else operate the boat. Don’t drink while operating a boat, either.

Choose to drink water, fruit juice, sports drinks, carbonated beverages, or anything else other than alcoholic beverages. If you dock and eat lunch and have a drink, wait an hour per drink before you get back on the water behind the wheel.

Above all, believe that any amount of drinking is too much to operate a boat. Don’t assume you’re ever safe to handle a boat if you’ve been drinking “just a little.”

The risks of Boating Under the Influence

A BUI, or boating while intoxicated, conviction has serious legal consequences. Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol entails doing so and may be just as risky as driving under the influence. You should never go behind the wheel of a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, so if you plan on going boating, educate yourself about the risks and consequences of BUI and stay sober.

Many individuals don't realize that a BUI might be much more dangerous than drunk driving. This is because boats are often larger and heavier than automobiles, and may thus potentially cause more damage in the event of an accident. The water may also be a more hazardous and unpredictable environment, making navigating and responding to unexpected occurrences more difficult. Staying sober on the water is crucial for everyone's safety due to the risks associated with boating under the influence.

The consequences of Boating Under Influence

The dangers of BUI are many and serious. It may result not only in accidents and injuries, but also in fines, prison time, and the loss of your boating licenses. Furthermore, BUI might result in long-term implications such as higher insurance premiums and a criminal record. It is important to recognize the hazards of BUI and to take precautions to prevent them.

Depending on the severity of the offense and the regulations in your jurisdiction, consequences for BUI may be severe. In several states and municipalities, boating under the influence is considered a criminal offense that may result in jail time, hefty fines, and the suspension or revocation of boating privileges. In certain places, doing so might be considered a civil offense, leading to fines and the loss of your boating privileges. You should be aware of the consequences of BUI and take every precaution to prevent it, regardless of where you happen to call home.

How to avoid BUI

Planning ahead of time is one of the greatest methods to prevent BUI. If you know you'll be boating, make arrangements for a sober driver or a trip home. If you're throwing a boating party, be sure you have enough of non-alcoholic beverages on hand and urge your guests to drink sensibly. It's also a good idea to get acquainted with your state's BUI rules and regulations, as well as your own personal drinking and boating limitations.

Tips for staying sober while boating

Here are a few pointers to help you remain sober when boating:

  • Make a plan ahead of time to select a sober driver or arrange for a transport home.
  • At boating gatherings, provide lots of non-alcoholic beverages.
  • When it comes to drinking and boating, know your boundaries.
  • Familiarize yourself with your state's BUI legislation and regulations.
  • Encourage your visitors to use alcohol responsibly.

Hiring the right boating accident attorneys can make or break your case. You deserve to receive compensation for your injuries.

Wettermark Keith Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today for more info and to see why we're the best personal injury lawyers for boating accidents.

BUI may result in fines, prison time, and the loss or suspension of your boating rights. The particular punishments will be determined by your state's laws and the circumstances of the violation.


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If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.