Summertime and the living is easy. As long as you aren’t drinking and driving, or drinking and boating! Alcohol and summer weather just seem to go together, and boating is the perfect activity for fun under the sun. But just like drinking and driving a car don’t mix, neither does driving a boat and drinking. Boating under the influence (BUI) on waterways is just as risky as DUI on the highways, and it’s just as illegal in North Carolina and the other states. (FYI: an experienced DWI attorney can handle a BUI charge with the same success as a DUI.)
Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in boating deaths, accounting for 15% of all recreational fatalities. In 2016, alcohol played a role in 335 boating injuries and 133 deaths.
U.S. Coast Guard
Is BUI Even More Dangerous Than DUI?
Drinking and driving on a roadway is dangerous because alcohol impairs a driver’s judgment, reaction time, and vision. But boating under the influence includes all of these dangers and more. “Boater’s Hypnosis” is a natural impairment that happens because of the combination of motion, engine noise, vibration, sun, wind, and the seemingly relaxing nature of the activity. Most boaters aren’t as “on guard” as they would typically be behind the wheel of a car. All of these elements can speed up the impact of alcohol, and the recreational aspect tends to increase the amount of alcohol consumed.
Now add in the typical inexperience of being behind the wheel of a boat compared to driving a car, and the risk increases even more. The average boater on Lake Wylie or Lake Norman near Charlotte, only spends about 100 hours on the water yearly. Compared with the amount of time spent behind the wheel of a car, the skill level isn’t even close. Not to mention, but I will, that there are no lanes, traffic lights, turn signals, or even licenses. It should be easy to see that making a case for BUI being more dangerous than DUI holds a lot of water!
ODW and DWI: Keeping Boaters Safe on the Water
We know that’s a lot of acronyms already, so we might as well throw in one more. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), along with the Coast Guard, started Operation Dry Water (ODW) in 2009 to educate the public on the dangers of Boating Under the Influence (BUI)! The mission of ODW is “to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water.”
The goal is to educate boaters on the consequences of boating under the influence and to prevent them from getting on the water in a potentially dangerous state. The ODW’s yearly, three-day campaign revolving around the July 4th holiday, has resulted in over 3,000 arrests for BUI so far. During the 2017 campaign, 243,853 boaters were “pulled over” across the United States, resulting in more than 30,000 citations or warnings along with more than 500 BUI arrests.
So if you find yourself charged with drinking and driving, whether it’s by land or sea, the Jason Reece Law Firm has your back. We are experienced and knowledgeable on everything from a simple traffic stop to more severe charges such as DWI and BUI. Just give us a call, send us an email, or drop by our offices. We’ll have you back on the water in no time.