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Alcohol increases chances of fatal boating accidents

On Behalf of | May 17, 2017 | Admiralty & Maritime Law

Louisiana residents may have heard of the term DUI and know it refers to driving under the influence, but they may not be familiar with BUI-boating under the influence. According to the Coast Guard, a boat operator who has as much alcohol as a vehicle driver is likely to become more impaired faster than the driver.

First of all, it is both state and federal law that operating a boat while intoxicated is against the law across the country. Many people may think that this law only applies to certain boats and not others, but this is not the case-the law is the same for all boats from small rowboats to the largest ships. The criminal penalties for violating this law are very stringent.

The impairment that results from alcohol consumption is even more dangerous than that of vehicle drivers. The marine environment motion-sun, wind, spray, engine noise-all of these lead to causing more fatigue that make a boat operator even more impaired. This means that in addition to effecting the operator’s judgment and reaction time similar to a driver’s, it also affect the operator’s vision and focus, making depth perception and color differentiation hazy. It can also cause inner ear disturbances that can potentially confuse someone who has fallen into the water. And lastly, alcohol can cause a warming sensation and a person in the water might not come out of the water until hypothermia sets in.

A third of all recreational boating accidents have the factor of alcohol involved in them. A boat operator with a BAC of over 0.10 is 10 times more likely to die in a fatal boating accident. Since many people get on boats for recreation purposes, they do not keep in mind the risks involved with consuming alcohol on a boat and if the boat owner is negligent and causes passengers to become seriously injured, it may be possible to hold them accountable. An admiralty and maritime lawyer may be able to help accident victims get the compensation they deserve.


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