Coast Guard warns of dangers of drinking and boating

9th Coast Guard District News
CLEVELAND — As National Safe Boating Week continues, the 9th Coast Guard District is reminding boaters Sunday that, just like on the road, they need to make a commitment to boat sober.

According to the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety’s Recreational Boating Statistics 2012, alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents last year. It was listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths.

When the Coast Guard determines that an operator is impaired, the operator’s voyage may be terminated.  The vessel may be brought to a mooring by the Coast Guard or turned over to a competent and un-intoxicated person aboard the vessel.  Depending on the circumstances, the Coast Guard may arrest the operator, detain him until sober, or turn him over to state or local authorities.

The Coast Guard and every state have stringent penalties for boaters violating BUI laws.  The federal statute can be found in Title 46, U.S. Code, Section 2302.  Penalties can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms.

“When mariners boat under the influence, it puts all those around them at significant risk,” said Capt. Stephen Torpey, chief of response for the 9th District.  “We want mariners to enjoy our nation’s waterways but to do it safely and responsibly.  The Coast Guard will continue to work closely with federal, state and local partners to ensure the safety of those on the water.”

Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination.  These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents afloat — for both passengers and boat operators.  Coast Guard data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, more than half the victims either capsized their boat or fell overboard.

Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land.  The marine environment — motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray — accelerates a drinker’s impairment.  These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.

Click HERE to read more about the dangers of BUI.

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