Like drinking and driving, boating while intoxicated is dangerous and illegal. If you own a boat, you should understand some of the facts about boating under the influence (BUI) we offer below, or you could find yourself needing a criminal defense attorney in the future.
Alcohol Can Affect You More On The Water
About four out of 10 fatal boating accidents every year involve alcohol and almost eight out of ten results in injury. In addition, more than 50% fell overboard without a life jacket or capsized the watercraft where alcohol was involved in a fatality.
One thing to remember is that it’s easier for a boater to get drunk than a car driver. When you are on the water, the heat, sun, glare, and wind tire you faster. Also, the boat’s constant motion makes you tired. All of these factors make you more susceptible to the effects of alcohol.
There are other dangers with drinking when in a boat; after several drinks, disturbances in the inner ear make it hard for someone who falls in the water to know which way is up. That’s why drowning is so common with intoxicated boaters.
All it takes is a couple of beers for someone in your boat to lose their balance and go overboard. That’s why you should exercise extreme caution when you have any alcohol on board. The most critical thing is to insist everyone wear a life preserver and keep them on when they drink.
A BUI Conviction Is A Misdemeanor
If you’re convicted of boating under the influence (.08% or higher blood-alcohol content), you could have a gross misdemeanor on your record, depending on the state. This usually means you can get several thousand dollars in fines and at least a few days in jail.
That conviction will stay on your record for life unless your criminal defense attorney can get it deleted. A BUI conviction can make it harder to get a job, rent an apartment, and get college loans.
The best thing to do is never drink while operating a boat, but if you do and are charged, hire a skilled defense attorney to minimize the damage.
If It’s In Federal Waters, A Conviction Can Be Worse
Suppose you are in a federal jurisdiction on the water and are arrested for BUI with significant bodily injury or death. In that case, this is a grave federal charge that can result in 25 years in federal prison.
You will need to have an attorney who hires sea accident reconstruction experts and other expert witnesses to build a robust defense in this situation.
Operating A Boat At Night Is More Dangerous
Even if you’re sober, it’s more challenging to operate a boat safely at night; boat lights are hard to see, and depth perception is affected. But when you are drinking, it can affect your night vision and make it hard to tell the difference between the red and green lights on the front and rear of other watercraft.
You Aren’t Safe If There Is No Motor On Your Craft
If you are in a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard, it’s a mistake to think you can get drunk, and there will be no consequences.
First, it’s hazardous to be on a small craft and intoxicated. All it takes is for a wave from a boat to knock you overboard for serious trouble to unfold.
Second, law enforcement can still check if you are intoxicated, and you will face the same penalties as you would in a motorboat.
Most people enjoy their time on the water and make great memories, but use caution when you take alcohol on board your vessel.