Being out on a boat usually means having a fun with friends or family. Unlike operating a car in many cases, driving a boat is usually for excitement and the beauty of the surrounding area. It may not be hard under these conditions to over indulge in alcohol as you get away from your busy life and enjoy the lakes or coastline.
Enjoying alcoholic drinks while out on the water is not against the law. However, if your blood alcohol level reaches .08 percent or higher and you are operating a boat or even jet skis, you can be arrested.
The dangers of boating and drinking in California
According to a report from the State of California Department of Boating and Waterways, in 2016 in California, there were 588 boating accidents that led to 50 fatalities. That is the highest number of accidents since 2009 and many of those had alcohol as a major contributing factor.
There are many factors that can contribute to a boat accident, these include the sun, glare, high waves, dehydration, heat and wind. When these hazards are brought together with a driver who is under the influence, each one can be intensified and misinterpreted. Also, alcohol is a depressant that can affect balance, coordination and reaction time. It can only take a few drinks before the driver of a boat has impaired judgement and begins to get overconfident in their driving.
Getting caught boating under the influence
When you are arrested for operating a boat under the influence (BUI) in California, your future of operating a boat is not the only thing affected. Even though you were not driving a car, your driver’s license can be suspended. You can also face jail time and be fined. You can also expect to attend mandatory alcohol treatment programs.
A BUI will also appear the same as a DUI would on your California driving record. If you are arrested for a BUI in California, you should treat it with the same importance as you would a DUI arrest. Besides your driver’s license being at stake, you can expect an increase in your insurance rates. The legal consequences of a BUI can include up to one year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
If you injure someone while boating intoxicated, you can be charged with a felony and up to one year in jail and a fine up to $5,000. If you injure someone badly enough it becomes fatal, the penalty can be up to 10 years in prison.
With the amount of boating accidents and fatalities continuing to grow and the seriousness that is placed on intoxicated drivers, you can expect enforcement to stay enhanced when it comes to BUI. You should continue to enjoy time out on the water, but you should be careful if alcohol is involved.