Before the thought of drinking on a boat crosses your mind, consider the physical and legal consequences of boating under the influence of alcohol. Not only is operating a boat while intoxicated illegal in all 50 states, it’s also dangerous and can have deadly consequences.
In addition to federal laws against operating a watercraft under the influence, various states also have laws and penalties prohibiting drunken boating. Depending on where you live and boat, you could be subject to harsh penalties if you boat while your blood alcohol level .08 percent or above. The legal consequences of drinking while boating range from large fines to jail time, and even suspension of your driver’s license. To find the Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws in your state, head on over to our BUI law page.
The Physical Effects
According to the U.S. Coast Guard alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in boat-related deaths, with 21% of boat deaths attributed to alcohol. This is no surprise considering how alcohol affects your balance, vision and judgement, and these impairments are intensified out on the water. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard has stated that “a boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .10 percent is estimated to be more than 10 times as likely to die in a boating accident than an operator with zero blood alcohol concentration.”
We’ve created this infographic to clearly show just how many boating deaths are caused by alcohol across the U.S.: