Coast Guard reminds boaters to not operate their vessel while under the influence

CLEVELAND – Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and beginning of the boating season on the Great Lakes.  The Ninth Coast Guard District would like all boaters to have safe fun on the water by remembering to always have a sober operator and never operate a vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Boating under the influence (BUI) is a nation-wide problem and is just as deadly as drinking and driving a motor vehicle.  In fact, a boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver, drink for drink.

It is against federal and state laws to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The federal law pertains to all boats (from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships) — and includes foreign vessels that operate in U.S. waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.

The Ninth Coast Guard District wants to ensure that every boater understands the risks of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Alcohol accounts for nearly one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
  • Alcohol is more hazardous on the water than on land. The marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray – accelerates a drinker’s fatigue, and
  • Alcohol can cause an inner ear disturbance that can make it impossible for a person who falls into the water to distinguish up from down.

Penalties for BUI can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms.

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