BUI: Don’t be that guy

National Safe Boating Week 2015 runs from May 16-22, 2015. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Wear It!’ Today’s feature focuses on the dangers of boating under the influence. Stay tuned all week as we share important boating safety information, and feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. Boat safe!

Alcohol remains the leading known causitive factor in all boating fatalities. Take the pledge this summer to stay sober on the water. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Alcohol remains the leading known causitive factor in all boating fatalities. Take the pledge this summer to stay sober on the water. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

 

No one thinks twice these days about drinking and driving – why should drinking and boating be any different?

As the weather warms and boating season kicks off, every boater needs to know and understand the risks of consuming alcohol while boating. Regardless of what many may think, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in any state. This applies to all vessels – not just power vessels. That’s right – you can get a BUI even while kayaking.

Regardless if you are boating near shore or off shore, alcohol affects your judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents – for both passengers and operators.

Here are three facts about BUIs that you may not have known:

1. A boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver, drink for drink.

Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land. The marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray – accelerates a drinker’s impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.

Alcohol can also be more dangerous to boaters because boat operators are often less experienced and less confident on the water than on the highway. Recreational boaters don’t have the benefit of experiencing daily boat operation.

In fact, boaters average only 110 hours on the water per year.

The consequences for boating under the influence parallel those for driving under the influence. Don't chance it - stay sober! U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The consequences for boating under the influence parallel those for driving under the influence. Don’t chance it – stay sober! U.S. Coast Guard photo.

2. The penalties for BUI are similar to drinking a driving – large fines, revocation of operator privileges and jail time.

Consuming alcohol while boating parallels the dangerous behavior of consuming alcohol while operating a motor vehicle – and the consequences reflect that. Each and every state has laws in place against boating while impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Think that you will just get towed back to land and told to wait until you are sober? Wrong. Boating under the influence carries similar punishment to drinking and driving. Depending on the severity of the incident, you could face large fines. The Coast Guard or state may also pull your operating privileges, ruining any further opportunities for enjoying time on the water for a specified time period. Even more serious – you could face jail time.

Play it safe this summer and stay sober while boating.

3. Alcohol continues to be the leading known causative factor in fatal boating accidents.

Even with various BUI awareness initiatives in place, alcohol continues to be the leading known causative factor of all fatal boating accidents, accounting for 21 percent of deaths in 2014.

While this percentage has decreased over recent years, even one death because of alcohol is one too many.

Take the pledge this entire summer, and don’t boat under the influence.

State and Coast Guard officials routinely work together to curb drunk boating incidents. The Coast Guard partners with local law enforcement each summer during Operation Dry Water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers.

State and Coast Guard officials routinely work together to curb drunk boating incidents. The Coast Guard partners with local law enforcement each summer during Operation Dry Water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers.

For more information about boating safety, visit the Coast Guard’s boating safety website.

 

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