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Alcohol: Leading Cause of Boating Accidents

Warm summer months are a perfect way to enjoy water sports and activities. Boating is a wonderful water activity that everyone can enjoy. However, when you mix boating with the use of alcohol, it can become dangerous and even deadly. Most people do not realize how dangerous boating while intoxicated can be. It can be more dangerous than driving intoxicated.

Like motor vehicles, boats are heavy and can travel at high speeds. Unlike cars and trucks, boats do not have breaks and the waterways do not have traffic signals to control the flow of traffic. This means that boat operators must be alert at all times. In order to safely operate a boat, you need to be aware that operating a boat drunk can be dangerous.

Alarming Boating Statistics

According to the 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics released by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), boating fatalities nationwide have totaled at 701. This is the highest number of yearly boating fatalities on record in the last five years. From 2015 to 2016, deaths increased 12 percent from 626 to 701, injuries increased 11.1 percent from 2,613 to 2,903, and the total number of accidents increased 7.3 percent from 4,158 to 4,463.

The USCG confirmed that alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Alcohol was also listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of boating accident related deaths.

Alcohol Impairs You Judgement While Operating a Boat

Alcohol acts as a depressant that slows your sensory abilities. Even a small amount of alcohol consumption can cause impairment. According to California’s Department of Boating and Waterways, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of only .05% can significantly impair your judgment, coordination and reaction time while operating a boat. If your BAC reaches more than .08%, your judgment and inhibition become seriously impaired and your response time becomes significantly lower.

Stress factors associated with boating, such as the heat and sun, can increase the effects of alcohol. As a result, it can diminish abilities that are important to safe boating, such as:

  • Balance and coordination
  • Reaction time
  • Comprehension and concentration
  • Depth perception
  • Color, peripheral and night vision

Boating Under the Influence is a Crime

Under California law, operating a boat while intoxicated is considered a crime. Although the law does not prohibit consumption of alcohol or having open alcohol containers on boats, it is illegal to operate a boat if your BAC is .08% or higher. Boating under the influence of alcohol can result in a misdemeanor accompanied with a monetary fine and/or jail time.

You can also be held monetarily liable if you cause an accident resulting in injury to another person or death.

Consult with an Orange County Boat Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating collision that was caused by the negligent or reckless act of a third party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Orange County boat accident attorney, call the Law Offices of Samer Habbas today at 888.848.5084.