Drunk Passengers Can Cause Boating Accidents


Most people realize the dangers of enjoying a day of boating with a boat operator under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yet they do not always consider the accelerated effects of alcohol while on the water – or the chances that anyone on the boat can ultimately cause serious injuries or fatalities.

The U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division explains that federal law prohibits Boating Under the Influence (BUI) while operating any boat on U.S. waters, from canoes to large ships. Similar laws exist for waters under state control, and the Coast Guard and states work together to get impaired operators off the water and impose stiff penalties that can include fines, elimination of boat operator privileges or even jail time. But the law does not apply to non-impaired operators with impaired passengers.

Even a relatively small amount of alcohol consumption can have vastly different effects on water than on dry land. The motion and vibration of the boat can affect balance for anyone moving around the boat, and the hot sun can make a difference in how quickly alcohol takes its toll on common sense judgment.

Impaired passengers on a recreational boating trip pose a great risk to themselves and others. They increase their own risk of falling overboard, and their actions can affect others on the boat or on other boats when they distract the boat operator or cause a capsize accident.

Boat operators can reduce the risks of alcohol by taking actions to ensure their passengers remain sober, even if it means supplying only non-alcoholic beverages and food, or prohibiting inebriated guests from boarding their vessels. But even if you take all precautions to help ensure safety, keep in mind that other boaters may not exercise good sense. Remain vigilant for signs of dangers around your boat, and when you cannot avoid an accident, contact a Baltimore boating accident lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. with the experience needed to investigate and prosecute these specialized accident cases.