Do you know about the dangers of boating under the influence, or BUI? If not, you will now. Operation Dry Water, a campaign launched by the United States Coast Guard, is partnering with local law enforcement to raise awareness about the risks of BUI from June 30 to July 2. With warm weather and boating season in full gear, it is crucial for you to know about the dangers of consuming alcohol while operating a boat.
Regardless if you are on your boat near or offshore, alcohol will impair your judgement, vision, coordination and balance. Do not put yourself, passengers or other boaters at risk. Below are important facts about BUI you should know.
1. Boaters likely get impaired more quickly than drivers
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the lake environment can accelerate impairment in boaters. Outside stressors such as motion, engine noise, sun, vibration and water spray can induce fatigue and affect judgement and reaction time, especially when combined with alcohol consumption.
2. Penalties are similar to those for DUI
Consuming alcoholic beverages while boating is comparable to the drinking while driving, which is why the consequences are similar. In Texas, you risk facing expensive fines, incarceration and a driver license suspension. If your intoxication causes bodily injury or death, you may face felony charges.
3. Alcohol causes a lot of fatalities
Even with BUI awareness and enforcement initiatives such as Operation Dry Water, it continues to be a leading cause of deadly boating crashes. In 2015, alcohol was the main contributing factor in 15 percent of recreational boating fatalities. While there has been a decrease in fatal boating accidents, even just one is too many.
If you get caught boating while intoxicated, or BWI, you could face serious criminal charges. As you go out on the lake, it is best to leave the alcohol behind. If you get charged with BUI/BWI, make sure you talk to a criminal defense lawyer before making any potentially incriminating statements.