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Boating Accidents and Intoxication

Most people understand the dangers that come with drinking and driving, from the legal consequences to serious or even fatal accidents. Public awareness of the risks and consequences of driving a car while intoxicated is high. Yet, many are willing to operate a boat after having a few drinks. However, boating while intoxicated is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, if not more so.

Boats can be dangerous. Even when traveling at moderate speeds, their weight and speed make them very dangerous if involved in an accident. They carry gasoline, which is flammable and volatile. They have no brakes or safety features like seatbelts. Furthermore, the open water lacks streetlights and lanes to travel in. Obstacles such as varying water depth, waves and wakes, underwater rocks, and other boats or swimmers must be avoided. Operating a boat is challenging and requires concentration, quick reactions, and awareness of your surroundings. If alcohol is added to this mix, accidents and death become much more likely.

Data published by the Coast Guard on boating and intoxication includes these troubling facts:

  • Alcohol is responsible for 16% of all boating fatalities
  • Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths. Alcohol is a major factor in as many as 50% of all recreational boating fatalities
  • Drunk boating is a criminal offense. Colloquially referred to as “boating under the influence” or BUI, in most jurisdictions, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater is against the law
  • A BAC of 0.10 is associated with a ten-fold increase in the risk of death from a boating accident
  • According to the Boat U.S. Foundation, the “stressors” of the boating environment – including sun, wind, vibration, and motion – increase the effects of alcohol. This means that the operator has increased impairment at any given BAC.
  • Drinking a single beer on the water is the same as drinking three beers on land.

Just as driving under the influence is illegal and dangerous, so too is the operation of a boat while intoxicated. Drinking and operating a boat not only endangers the boating operator, but also his passengers as well as the people in other boats. Potential boating accidents include:

  • Collisions with other boats, objects, or land
  • Speeding too quickly across the wake of another boat and losing control
  • Hitting underwater objects
  • Passengers thrown from boats for any number of reasons

Despite the dire risks and consequences, many people continue to cause boating accidents and injuries due to being impaired, intoxicated, negligent, and reckless. Across the nation, boating accidents due to BUI have caused injuries such as:

  • Spinal injuries resulting in paralysis and disability
  • Bone fractures and limb loss
  • Lacerations of the skin, soft tissue and tendons
  • Facial lacerations requiring multiple plastic surgical interventions
  • Concussions, bleeds, and other brain injuries

Tragically, boating accidents often lead to death due to the presence of water and potential for drowning and brain damage. If you have lost a loved one in a drunk boating accident, you can hold the responsible party accountable.

Were You the Victim of a Drunk Boater? We Can Help.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk boater, it is important to contact a boating accident attorney as soon as possible. You need an attorney with specific experience with drunk boating accidents who will defend your rights and recover the compensation that you deserve. Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers has years of experience holding drunk boaters accountable for their reckless actions, and we can do the same in your case. Contact us at 203-397-1283 or fill out a contact form to schedule a consultation with us today.


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