Boating under the influence (BUI)…it’s serious.
Every boater needs to understand the risks of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI. This law pertains to ALL boats (from john boats to the largest ships) – and includes foreign vessels that operate in U.S. waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is a major factor in as much as 50 percent of all recreational boating fatalities. The Coast Guard says a boater with a blood alcohol concentration above .10 percent – the legal threshold in 38 states – is ten times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than a boater with zero BAC. No matter what activity, alcohol affects balance, vision, coordination and judgment. But in boating, a combination of wind, sun, noise, motion and vibration can magnify the effects of alcohol and even accelerate impairment.
Losing a loved one, especially in a situation that seems preventable like BUI, is a devastating experience. Coping with this trauma is much worse than boating soberly. Alcohol can turn a great day on the water into the tragedy of a lifetime. Do not become another statistic. Don’t forget that a boat is a vehicle, and safe operation is a legal and personal responsibility.