The Dangers of Boating and Alcohol Use
Boating and alcohol can lead to catastrophic events. Although many individuals feel that a few drinks won’t impair their ability to safely operate a boat, they also have to account for the impact of the wind, waves, and sun, which can further hinder a drinker’s impairment. All of these obstacles combined with only a few drinks can make it difficult for an individual to safely react to swimmers and other boats.

What are the Effects of Drinking and Boating?
According to the California Department of Boating and Waterways, when an individual’s blood alcohol content is greater than 0.035%, it significantly influences his or her ability to properly and safely operate a boat. It is also important to keep in mind that the sun can amplify the effects of alcohol and lead to dehydration or heat exhaustion. In addition, alcohol may also influence a boater’s:

  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Judgement
  • Reaction time
  • Depth perception
  • Vision
  • Attention

What are the Legal Consequences of Boating and Drinking?
According to California law, individuals are not allowed to operate a marine vessel when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. California boating laws state that an individual can be charged with boating under the influence if he or she has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%

If an individual is charged with boating under the influence, it could lead to a suspended or revoked driver’s licenseranging from six months to five years. The Department of Motor Vehicles considers previous offenses as well as the type of vessel that was involved. In addition, those found guilty of boating under the influence could face a fine up to $1,000 and one year in jail. However, if an individual is found guilty of boating under the influence, and he or she is responsible for the personal injury or wrongful death of another individual, the consequences can be serious.

Because boating and alcohol is a serious problem, there are more than 150 organizations throughout California that are taking action to ensure all boaters are safe. The California Department of Boating and Waterways is currently providing training services and equipment to officers to help reduce the number of boating accidents that are caused by alcohol.

Reporting Accidents
California law requires that all boaters report accidents. All parties must share their contact information, which includes vessel registration, with each other following the accident. In addition, vessel operators must offer assistance to any individuals who are injured as a result of the accident. The accident should be reported in writing to the California Department of Boating and Waterways under the following circumstances:

When the accident resulted in a fatality or disappearance of an individual;

If any injuries occurred as a result of the accident that required medical care aside from first aid;

If there was property damage that was greater than $500 to any docks, boats, or other property;

There was a total loss of a vessel.

In addition, when an accident resulted in a fatality, serious injury, or disappearance, the law states that vessel operators must report the accident to the California Department of Boating and Waterways within 48 hours. When the accident only resulted in property damage, vessel operators must file a report within 10 days.

Contact a Skilled Attorney
San Diego is a popular boating spot because it provides stunning views of the beach and ocean. There are many individuals in the San Diego area who enjoy participating in kayaking, sailing, boating, and other water activities. Although most individuals who partake in these activities practice caution, they are at risk by no-fault of their own when another individual is boating under the influence of alcohol. According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 4,515 boating accidents in 2012 that resulted in 651 fatalities. Furthermore, California reported 473 boating accidents in 2012 that resulted in 53 deaths.

If you have been involved in a boating accident, which was caused by an individual who was boating under the influence, it is imperative to contact a skilled legal team immediately. The intoxicated boater is at-fault, and if you or a loved one suffered from any injures, you could receive compensation for damages. Many victims are awarded compensation for lost wages, rehabilitative and medial bills, pain and suffering, and more. California has laws in place to ensure boaters face strict penalties when they are intoxicated while operating a vessel, and these laws also protect victims of boating accidents that involved alcohol. When you have an experienced and knowledgeable legal team on your side, the chances of being awarded compensation for you damages will greatly increase.