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BUI Makes for Pricey Day on the Water

drinking while boatingLaw enforcement is out in full force across the country looking for people that are under the influence of alcohol while operating not just cars, but boats too. As a more relaxed form of transportation, boaters often forget that drinking and boating can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving.

In fact, the boating environment makes consuming alcohol potentially even more dangerous than drinking and operating a car on land. Alcohol impairment is greatly increased on the water. On top of decreased coordination, judgment and reaction time, boaters under the influence also have to deal with engine vibrations, sun, wind and waves.

Boaters under the influence run the risk of ending up in a situation where they can’t property assess and make a good decision. For example, a boat headed towards a dock should be slowly and steadily redirected, but a boat driver under the influence could perceive that there is more time or space until he has to react. If he reacts too late, he could tip the boat over and cause damage to the boat or passengers to fall into the water.

Being drunk causes imbalance and poor focus. An intoxicated boater that falls into the water spontaneously has a difficult time determining while underwater which way is up and which way is down. Dizzy and panicking, swimming to the surface for air becomes nearly impossible. This situation too frequently leads to drowning.

A boat operator that drinks enough to have a blood alcohol concentration above .10 is ten times more likely to get into and die from a boating accident than a boat operator with no alcohol in their system at all. Sober boaters and passengers can foresee problems, react appropriately and keep everyone on the boat safe.

Drinking while boating causes stress and fatigue opening to door for accidents, falling overboard or even capsizing. The US Coast Guard reports that deaths resulting from intoxicated boat use consist 50 percent of capsized boats and passengers falling overboard. Just like driving a car full of friends, operating a boat under the influence can also cause death and injury. And just like police on the streets, there are police on the water as well looking for drunk boaters.

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