Despite the known dangers of drinking and driving, boaters in North Carolina and nationwide continue to struggle with giving up their beers and drinks, whether on the road or on the water.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. This summer, be aware of the risks and dangers of alcohol and boating, whether you are an avid boater yourself, spending an afternoon with friends, or sending your child out with another family.
Boating accidents and collisions can have grave consequences including severe injury, paralysis, and drowning. An afternoon of partying on a boat can turn deadly when a driver is under the influence. In 2012, alcohol was the main factor in 17% of the 651 deaths that involved recreational vehicles. Our boating accident attorneys are experienced with the investigation of boating accidents and will help to protect the rights of victims and their families.
Many states are cracking down on drinking and driving. Often, those efforts are extending to the water. National Safe Boating Week occurs in June and many states are making efforts to reverse the trend of deadly boating accidents. Georgia has lowered its blood-alcohol content limit for boaters from .10% to .08%. The state has also imposed harsher penalties for those convicted. Where a boater used to get a slap on the wrist for drinking and driving, they may face severe criminal penalties, including fines and jail time. A driver could also lose their driver's license if charged with drinking and driving. Illinois has recently passed a bill that authorizes the state to suspend a driver's license if caught drinking and driving a boat. Washington State recently passed a law that extends penalties to boaters who are under the influence of marijuana, not just alcohol.
For legislators, drinking and driving a boat is considered reckless and has been the cause of a significant number of deaths and injuries. With harsher laws and penalties, many of these boating accidents could be prevented. Whether out on a lake or boating off the coast, drinking and boating is a serious risk and potential threat to passengers and other boaters.
Nationwide, horror stories have emerged about children and other innocent victims who have lost their lives to drinking and boating. Last year in Georgia, two boys were killed after their family pontoon boat was struck by a drunk driver. In Illinois a 10-year-old was killed on a lake when his father ran over him with a 29-foot powerboat. He was charged with operating a boat under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.
Another danger of drinking and boating is that many of these drivers will also be responsible for getting the boat to shore. They may also get behind the wheel of a vehicle after a long day of drinking and sun. This puts all passengers and other motorists at risk.
While Americans will always enjoy the relaxation and pleasure of being out on the water, they should try to do so without combining it with drinking activities. Drinking culture has long been associated with boating, but legislators hope that bringing awareness can help prevent future tragedies on the water.