California boating is a wonderful activity everyone can enjoy, but when you mix boating with alcohol our waterways can become very dangerous. Most people do not realize that boating while intoxicated can be more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
Like cars and trucks, boats are heavy vehicles that can travel at high speeds. Unlike cars, boats have no brakes, and the waters they travel on have no lanes or stop signs to control the flow of traffic. This means boat operators need to be alert and sharp. To operate a boat responsibly, a boat operator needs to aware that the effects of alcohol are amplified out on the water, and that there are significant risks associated with boating under the influence (BUI).
Alcohol Impairs Your Ability to Operate a Boat
Almost half of all boating accidents are alcohol or drug related. Many boaters are unaware of how significantly alcohol consumption can impact their ability to operate their boat safely. Alcohol acts as a depressant that slows sensory abilities, and even a moderate amount of alcohol can cause impairment. According to California’s Department of Boating and Waterways, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just .05% a boat operator will experience a loss in judgment, coordination and reaction time. When the BAC reaches .08% or above, judgment and inhibitions are seriously impaired and responses are significantly slower.
Stress factors associated with boating – sun, heat, wind, noise and the boat’s vibration – increase the effects of alcohol, diminishing abilities critical to safe boating including:
- Balance and coordination
- Reaction time
- Comprehension and concentration
- Depth perception
- Color, peripheral and night vision
After drinking, a boater begins to lose the ability to judge the degree of his or her impairment. This can lead to riskier behavior as boaters fail to comprehend dangerous situations. This results in collisions with other boats or obstacles, capsizing and people falling overboard.
Operating a Boat While Intoxicated is a Crime
California does not prohibit alcohol or open containers on boats but it is illegal to operate a boat with a BAC of .08% or greater. Operating a boat while intoxicated is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine and/or jail time. If an accident occurs resulting in injury to another person, or wrongful death, the driver can be charged with a felony that carries a more severe penalty and/or jail time.
The best way to ensure you never face charges for operating a boat is to leave the alcohol at home and safely enjoy the beautiful waters of Southern California.
An Experienced Long Beach Boating Accident Attorney Can Help You
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