Boating Under The Influence Laws

Thinking of drinking on a boat? Before you grab the beer and hit the water, keep in mind that operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol is not only illegal, it’s dangerous and can have deadly consequences.

BUI Laws

Not only is there a federal law against operating watercraft under the influence, but each state also has its own unique set of laws and penalties against drunken boating.

Just like there are DUI checkpoints on the road, there are BUI (boating under the influence) checkpoints on the water. At these checkpoints, officers can stop you and administer sobriety tests. In most states, if your blood alcohol level is discovered to be .08 percent or above, you’ll be subject to jail time, large fines and/or suspension of your boating or driver’s license.

Want to know your state’s laws regarding boating under the influence? You’re in luck. Boat Ed® has compiled a list of laws by state here.

Effects of Alcohol

If the legal ramifications of boating while intoxicated don’t scare you enough, the physical effects might. On land, alcohol affects your balance, vision and judgment. Out on the water, those impairments are intensified, and you feel drunk more quickly. Also take into account that most recreational boaters are less experienced with operating a boat than they are with driving a car and you have a recipe for disaster. Don’t believe it? Maybe you’ll believe the U.S. Coast Guard. They’ve said 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.

It’s not just boat operators who can run into trouble while drinking on the water. Passengers are also at risk. More than half of the victims of alcohol-related fatalities capsized their boats or fell overboard. Makes you rethink those drinks, doesn’t it?

While it can be tempting to crack open a can of brew while cruising, especially as the weather gets warmer, keep in mind that your record, license, and life are at stake!