We all know about the risk of driving under the influence (DUI), but do you know that there is also a danger when “boating under the influence”? Boating under the Influence (BUI) is both dangerous and illegal. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the use of alcohol is involved in about a 17% of all recreational boating fatalities. If marine law enforcement finds that a boat operator is BUI, the vessel’s voyage will be terminated, the boat may be impounded and the operator may be arrested. Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, impoundment of the boat, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges.
Alcohol and many drugs can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. The problem is compounded by sun, wind, noise, vibration and movement , which cause fatigue. As a result, a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol, drugs and some prescribed and over-the-counter medications.
A boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .10 percent is estimated to be more than 10 times as likely to die in a boating accident than an operator with zero blood alcohol concentration. Passengers are also at greatly increased risk for injury and death – especially if they are also using alcohol.
To combat this problem, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), along with the states and the U.S. Coast Guard, coordinates “Operation Dry Water” every year during the last weekend in June.
This year, Operation Dry Water is June 24-26, 2011, and North Carolina is a major participant. In previous years, hundreds of intoxicated boaters were arrested during Operation Dry Water. If you are a boater, you can expect to see an increased number of BUI checkpoints, as well as random stops for alcohol testing.
At HensonFuerst Attorneys, we applaud this action. We know the disastrous effects of driving while impaired, and it makes sense to educate boaters about the effects of intoxication, as well. We’re just at the start of the summer boating season: Stay Safe!
To learn more about this program, click here: Operation Dry Water