Boating under the influence (BUI) accounts for 16 percent of all fatal
boating accidents in the United States. Under California law, it is illegal
to operate a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
of 0.08 percent or higher. The criminal penalties for BUI are akin to
driving under the influence, including financial penalties, license revocation,
and possible jail time.
As highlighted by the U.S. Coast Guard, “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
During the busy summer boating season, we encourage boaters to follow the
Coast Guard’s tips for staying safe:
- Take along a variety of cool drinks, such as sodas, water, iced tea, lemonade
or non-alcoholic beer. Bring plenty of food and snacks.
- Plan to limit your trip to a reasonable time to avoid fatigue. Remember
that it's common to become tired more quickly on the water.
- If you want to make alcohol part of your day's entertainment, plan
to have a party ashore at the dock, in a picnic area, at a boating club,
or in your backyard. Choose a location where you'll have time between
the fun and getting back into your car or boat.
- If you dock somewhere for lunch or dinner and drink alcohol with your meal,
wait a reasonable time (estimated at a minimum of an hour per drink) before
operating your boat.
- Having no alcohol while aboard is the safest way to enjoy the water —
intoxicated passengers are also at risk of injury and falls overboard.
- Spread the word on the dangers of BUI. Many recreational boaters forget
that a boat is a vehicle and that safe operation is a legal and personal
If you or someone you care about has suffered serious injury in a California
boating accident, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free
consultation. After a serious accident, we can advocate on your behalf
to help hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions and seek
the compensation you deserve.