A Must Read Before Hitting the Lake This Summer…

Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Defensive Driving Tips

You gather up some friends, grab a case of beer, and head out to the lake to spend the day boating. Sounds like the perfect summer day, right? Well, it very well can be, as long as you make sure the person driving the boat is not partaking in the alcohol. You know that drinking and driving is a very serious crime with very serious consequences, but what about drinking and boating?

Believe it or not, a DUI on the water, otherwise known as a BUI (boating under the influence) is a very real thing. You may not have lanes to stay in or signs to stop at, but you still need to drive defensively as you maintain control of the vehicle you are operating. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds boaters that it doesn’t matter if you are operating a canoe, a motorboat, or a yacht, drinking and boating is illegal in every state.

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A BUI can’t really be as serious as a DUI, can it?

Yes, actually, it can. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 33% of all recreational boating fatalities involve alcohol use. When people’s lives are being lost, it is very serious. The U.S. Coast Guard believes that boating and drinking is actually more severe than driving and drinking because the elements a boater is exposed to (motion, vibration, sun, wind, etc.) accelerate how quickly impairment occurs. If you can drink three drinks on land before reaching the legal limit of 0.08% BAC, you may only be able to drink two at sea.

BUIs are such a serious problem that the penalties for them are very similar to a DUI. They include steep fines, revocation or suspension of boating privileges, and jail time. In fact, famous environmental activist Erin Brockovich-Ellis was just arrested for a BUI at Lake Mead, reports USA Today. She got lucky and only had to post a $1,000 bail, but she wasn’t even operating the boat in open waters. She was merely trying to dock it after her male partner drove all day.

So yes, it is okay enjoy the summer weather. Go out on the boat for the day, catch some fish, water ski, or get a tan. But please, do not drink if you are the one driving the boat. It is not worth your life or the lives of your friends.

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