Boating Under The Influence, A Message From The Lawrence County Sheriffâ€™s Office
BUI is just as deadly as drinking and driving!
Did you know:
- A boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver, drink for drink?
- The penalties for BUI can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms?
- The use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities?
Every boater needs to understand the risks of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (BUI). It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. This law pertains to ALL boats (from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships) â€” and includes foreign vessels that operate in U.S. waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.
Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents afloat â€“ for both passengers and boat operators. U.S. Coast Guard data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, over half the victims capsized their boats and/or fell overboard.
Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land. The marine environment â€“ motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray â€“ accelerates a drinker’s impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.
Alcohol can also be more dangerous to boaters because boat operators are often less experienced and less confident on the water than on the highway. Recreational boaters don’t have the benefit of experiencing daily boat operation. In fact, boaters average only 110 hours on the water per year.
Alcohol has many physical effects that directly threaten safety and well-being on the water.
When a boater or passenger drinks, the following occur:
- Cognitive abilities and judgment deteriorate, making it harder to process information, assess situations, and make good choices.
- Physical performance is impaired – evidenced by balance problems, lack of coordination, and increased reaction time.
- Vision is affected, including decreased peripheral vision, reduced depth perception, decreased night vision, poor focus, and difficulty in distinguishing colors (particularly red and green).
- Inner ear disturbances can make it impossible for a person who falls into the water to distinguish up from down.
- Alcohol creates a physical sensation of warmth – which may prevent a person in cold water from getting out before hypothermia sets in.
As a result of these factors, 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. Passengers are also at greatly increased risk for injury and death – especially if they are also using alcohol.
The State of Arkansas and every state have stringent penalties for violating BUI laws. Penalties can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms. The states cooperate fully in enforcement in order to remove impaired boat operators from the waters.
In waters that are overseen solely by the states, the states have the authority to enforce their own BUI statutes. In state waters that are also subject to U.S. jurisdiction, there is concurrent jurisdiction. That means if a boater is apprehended under Federal law in these waters, the Coast Guard will (unless precluded by state law) request that state law enforcement officers take the intoxicated boater into custody.
When an operator is impaired, the voyage may be terminated. The vessel will be brought to mooring by authorities. Depending on the circumstances, the authorities may arrest the operator, detain the operator until sober, or turn the operator over to state or local authorities.
For more information on the Lawrence County Sheriffâ€™s Office, visit their website atwww.lawrencecountysheriffsoffice.com .