Just like driving under the influence (DUI), drinking and operating a boat is also prohibited in all 50 states. Each state, in fact, enforces their own set of penalties for whoever will be caught boating under the influence (BUI). While large fines and jail time are standard penalties, some states also include loss of operating privileges, suspension of operator’s certification, completion of alcohol education program or safe boating course, or suspension of driver’s license.
The passing of BUI laws was a result of a rise in alcohol and drug-related boating injuries and fatalities. Alcohol, as stated in the official website of the Boating Safety Resource Center, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division, is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Drinking, as a matter of fact, will impair a boat operator even faster than a car driver. This is due to the overall condition at sea, which includes the motion of a boat on the water, the sea breeze, the heat, the sun, the noise, the wind, and the glare. These factors, which can affect the physical and mental abilities of a boat operator, are referred to as “boater’s fatigue.” Add alcohol and drugs to all these and an individual’s ability to safely operate his/her boat will be severely affected.
According to the United States Coast Guard, the threatening effects of alcohol when it is consumed while on sea include:
- Deterioration of judgment and cognitive abilities, as well as of one’s ability to render wise assessment of any situation, process information and make good choices;
- Impairment in physical control, resulting in problem in balance, lack of coordination and failure to make timely reaction to dangers;
- Decrease in peripheral or night vision and depth perception, and difficulty in identifying colors; and,
- Difficulty in pulling self out of the cold water (if thrown overboard), resulting to hypothermia and death.
The explained in the website of the Hankey Law Office, as BWIs continue to become more and more prevalent, states are making tougher laws to punish those who drink before or while driving a boat. In some states, a boating while intoxicated charge will appear on a person’s driving record, similar to a driving while intoxicated charge. These laws will hopefully prevent some people from operating a boat if they have been drinking, and will sufficiently punish those who continue to act in a reckless and dangerous manner.
Clearly, when irresponsible individuals combine boating with alcohol, accidents are likely to occur and, since combining boating with alcohol is an irresponsible act, anyone who causes death, injury or damage to any property should be held totally accountable.Read More