The term “drinking and driving” generally prompts visions of automobiles, but it’s crucial to remember the rule applies to all vehicles, including watercraft. In all U.S territories and the 50 states, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs – termed Boating Under the Influence (BUI) – is a criminal offense.
The law pertains to all kinds of watercraft, from motorboats and jet skis to non-motorized vessels like canoes or rowboats. Just like on land, the legal intoxication limit on water is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more. Nevertheless, alcohol’s effects vary across individuals, and impairment can occur even below this level.
The Dangers of Alcohol on Water
Alcohol consumption can severely impact your balance, coordination, and judgment, all critical for safe water navigation. Factors like “boater’s fatigue,” including the sun, wind, spray, motion, engine noise, and vibration, can amplify alcohol’s effects, adding to the peril.
Legal Consequences of BUI
BUI comes with stringent legal penalties. If caught boating under the influence, you could face fines, imprisonment, and a loss of boating or even driving privileges. The severity of these penalties typically hinges on the state’s laws, the operator’s BAC level, and whether the offense is a repeat one.
Financial and Civil Implications of BUI
Drunk boating can also lead to substantial financial costs. If a BUI incident results in an accident, you may be held accountable for the resulting damages or injuries, potentially leading to considerable financial penalties or civil lawsuits. It’s worth noting that if you were under the influence during the accident, insurance companies might not cover the damages.
The Human Cost: Injuries and Fatalities
BUI can result in a severe boat crash resulting in major injuries or even death. As per the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the principal known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Such tragedies are avoidable, and the onus is on the boat operator to ensure everyone’s safety.
Social Repercussions and Insurance Impacts of BUI
A BUI conviction can lead to significant social consequences, including reputational damage, strained personal relationships, and potential difficulties in future job applications. Moreover, your boating insurance might be affected. BUI conviction often leads to a hike in premiums, and some insurers may even refuse to provide coverage.
Safety and Responsibility
The dangers and repercussions of BUI are grave. It’s not merely a legal matter but one of public safety. As the boating season begins, remember that boat operating demands the same responsibility as driving a car. Make responsible choices, stay sober on the water, and ensure a safe and pleasurable experience for all. Remember, “Boat sober or get pulled over” – your actions can significantly impact not only your life but also the lives of others.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
It’s important to protect your legal rights after any type of boating accident. Injuries sustained in an boating accident can cause permanent damage and permanently affect your daily life. Call Deldar Legal at (844) 335-3271 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation. Our experienced boating accident lawyers serve accident victims throughout California.