The recreational formula is quite simple: beautiful weather days, plus a body of water equals boaters, fishing and water fun. Most everyone likes to enjoy the freedom of a couple of hours on the water, cruising around on a canoe, jet ski, pontoon, or various other types of boats. Some boaters enjoy packing a picnic lunch and even an adult beverage or two to enjoy while cruising around.
Here are some interesting facts you may not be aware of regarding boating, alcohol, and other forms of impairment:
- Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws exist for all 50 states. "Under the influence" means anything that would prevent the boat operator and its passengers from using reasonable, and customary care while on the water. This includes alcohol, legal and illegal drugs, or a combination of both.
- You can receive a BUI charge while operating any type of personal watercraft, whether it has a motor or not.
- Being under the influence can increase your potential to have a marine incident. Consider this: being exposed to the sun, hot temperatures, currents, and constantly being having to be aware of people, other boaters, your location, your speed, your passengers, hazards under the water, and if you are towing skiers or a floatation device filled to the brim with joyful children. That is a lot of responsibility for the boat operator to keep up with sober! Adding alcohol and drugs to the mix reduces your reflexes, your judgement, and potentially your thought process.
- While in operation, you could get a BUI if your alcohol level is 0.08%, which is the same as a DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
- First Offense BUI is considered in most states, as a misdemeanor with $200 in fines, 48 hours of jail time/community service, and a 6-month boating ban.
- Second Offense BUI carries a steeper misdemeanor penalty with $1000-$5000 in fines, a minimum of 48 hours of jail time or up to 10 days community service, and a 1-year boating ban.
- Third Offense BUI carries an even steeper misdemeanor penalty with $3500-$6000 in fines, 60 days to 3 years of jail time and a 3-year boating ban.
- BUIs involving damage to property or minor injuries to passengers or other persons, are considered misdemeanors. If convicted, the boater could receive a penalty of $500 in fines and/or up to 30 days in jail, plus a 1-year boating ban.
- Boating Under the Influence with serious bodily injury to your passengers or others, is a felony. If convicted, the boater could receive a penalty of $5000-$10,000 in fines, a minimum of 30 days to 15 years jail time, and a 3-year boating ban.
- If the BUI results in the death of one or more persons, this is also a felony. If convicted, the boater could by required to pay $10,000-$25,000 in fines, a minimum of one year to 25 years in prison, and a 3-year boating ban.
Why risk it? You can enjoy a day on the water sober, with peace of mind. Granted, you will still be on alert for those around you on your boat, other boaters, hazards, and more, but being able to provide a safer environment for your friends and family without the deterrent of alcohol and drugs. When you look at the risks, it is just not worth it!