The Dangers of Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Roads and highways are not the only places where alcohol puts people in danger. Accidents occurring on waters, though with much lesser results of injuries and deaths, are also major concerns for authorities, specifically to the U.S. Coast Guard. Water accidents involve not only big ships and cruise liners which meet tragic accidents in international seas; many more occur near shores, in rivers or inside territorial waters and these involve yachts, motor boats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and other water vessels, including those used for sporting activities, like jet skis.
Alcohol, sad to say, is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents. Boating while impaired or boating under the influence (BUI), according to the Boating Safety Resource Center, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division’s official website, is just as deadly as drunk-driving. Drinking, as a matter of fact, will impair a boat operator even faster than a car driver and that 1/3 of all recreational boating accidents are due to alcohol impairment. Because of the dangers brought about by BUI, those who violate US laws regarding this will suffer jail terms, huge fines and revocation of operator privileges.
The federal BUI law enforced by the United States Coast Guard applies to all types of boats, including the largest ships, rowboats and canoes; it also includes foreign vessels sailing through US territories and US ships on the high seas.
The threatening effects of alcohol when it is consumed while on sea include:
- Deterioration of judgment and cognitive abilities, rendering wise assessment of situations, processing of information and making good choices, much harder;
- Impairment in physical control, resulting in failure to make timely reaction to dangers, lack of coordination and problem in balance;
- Decrease in peripheral or night vision and depth perception, difficulty in identifying colors, especially green and red; and,
- Failure to pull self out of the cold water, causing hypothermia and death.
Drinking alcohol or liquor, while on sea, can affect a boat operator’s balance, coordination, vision and judgment, much faster than when alcohol is consumed on land. This is due to the overall marine environment, where the boat’s operator and passengers experience the sun, wind, sea water mist or spray, engine noise, vibration and motion. Thus, due to alcohol, capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling overboard have been common causes death of fatal accidents for boat passengers and operators alike.
According to the Clawson Staubes, LLC: Injury Group, boat operators are obliged to observe different laws on the water, including not operating their vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Failure to observe these rules can result not only to fines and possible imprisonment, but to suspension of their privilege to operate their vessel as well.