What you don’t know about impaired boating can be deadly

As the temperatures rise and schools let out, more and more people head to the closest body of water to rest and relax. Tragically, some people make the decision to drink while operating a water vehicle, a deadly decision for many.

While many people understand the importance of not mixing alcohol and other drugs with driving, the same message isn’t as well known when it comes to boating. Some dangerous ideas exist about drinking and boating – but here is the truth. Drinking and operating a water vehicle is just as dangerous, just as deadly and just as preventable.

What are the myths?

  1. Boats are toys — Boats are fun, no doubt, but they aren’t toys. Worse, when people think of parties, many think of alcohol, and that’s when the real trouble begins. Boat operators who have consumed alcohol are more likely to be killed in a waterway crash.
  2. Drinking and boating isn’t a big deal — Wrong! The same laws about impairment apply to people driving a boat. That means, a .08 blood alcohol concentration or higher is illegal. Without lane markers and other visual clues, safe boating requires more than the usual concentration to drive. Add alcohol to the mix, and it’s a deadly situation.
  3.  You won’t get caught — Wrong. Police departments have been cracking down. Some sheriff offices are taking to the water. Fish and Game wardens, the Coast Guard and other state and federal officials are looking for impaired boaters. Don’t be one them.
  4. You are safe as long as there is no motor — Wrong again. Most Boating Under the Influence laws apply to all vessels from canoes and kayacks to the largest ships.
  5. Alcohol is the only problem — Don’t count on it. Most laws are looking for an “intoxicant,” which isn’t necessarily alcohol. Illegal and legal drugs can both increase your risk out on the water.

Let’s make this summer a safe one. Don’t mix drinking and boating. If you’ve been injured or had a loved one killed by intoxicated boating, please call our 24/7 National Victim Help Line at 1-877-MADD-HELP.


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