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Boating Under the Influence Is More Dangerous During Busy Summer Season

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 alcohol.”

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 responsibility.

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.