Boating under the influence (BUI)
Seventy-six million people enjoy boating on America's waterways each year, but many are not aware of the very real, life threatening dangers associated with alcohol consumption and boating. To help reduce the incidents of BUI, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has initiated a major, nationwide campaign to warn Americans about the dangers of alcohol consumption and boating.
Liquor is Quicker on the Water
Alcohol, with its well-known ability to impair performance, creates an even more hazardous situation when added to the stress of the marine environment. This is because the marine environment - the fluid base, motion, vibration, engine noise, and elements of sun, wind and spray - accelerates impairment. The operator's coordination, judgment, and reaction time are reduced by fatigue caused by these stressors. A boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .10 percent is estimated to be more than 10 times as likely to be killed in a boating accident than boat operators with zero blood alcohol concentration. Further, alcohol can be more treacherous for boaters since they are less experienced and less confident on the water than on the highway. Recreational boaters do not have the advantage of experiencing daily operation of a boat. In fact, boaters average only about 110 hours of boating in a whole year. And in areas with seasonal boating, there can be months between boating outings or fishing trips.
Effects of Alcohol Consumption
Add boating stressors to those usual factors resulting from drinking alcohol, and a truly perilous condition is present. Drinking alcohol produces certain physiological responses that directly affect safety and well-being.
How Quickly Alcohol Effects the Human System
APPROXIMATE BLOOD ALCOHOL PERCENTAGE
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is Illegal Nationwide
It is unlawful in every State to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In addition to State BUI laws, there is also a Federal law, enforced by the Coast Guard, prohibiting BUI. This law applies to all boats, including foreign vessels, in U.S. waters and U.S. vessels on the high seas.
Penalties for BUI are Severe
The Coast Guard and every State have stringent penalities for violation of BUI laws, including the possibility of not only a large fine, suspension or revocation of operator privileges, but perhaps a jail term. The Coast Guard and the States, in a mutual effort to remove impaired boat operators from the water, cooperate fully. In sole State waters, States have authority to enforce their own BWI statutes. Within State waters that are also subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., there is concurrent jurisdiction. If, in these waters, a boater is apprehended under Federal law, the Coast Guard will, unless precluded by State law, request that State enforcement officers assume custody of an intoxicated boater.
What Will Happen to the Impaired Operator?
When the Coast Guard determines that an operator is impaired, the voyage will be terminated. The vessel will be brought to mooring either by Coast Guard tow, a member of the Coast Guard crew, or a competent, untoxicated, person on board of the recreational vessel. Depending on the circumstances, the operator may then be arrested, detained until sober, or turned over to State or local authorities.
Boating Safety Education
Throughout the country each year, over 2,000 safe boating courses are offered by groups such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadrons, the American Red Cross, and individual States. Courses cover many aspects of boating safety - from boat handling to reading the weather. All courses include knowledge and warning about alcohol and boating. For more information on finding a course near you that will fit your schedule - call the toll-free U.S. Coast Guard Infoline at 1-800-368-5647.
This information from the US Coastguard Website.