Sailboats

The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety reports that alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. One alcoholic beverage on the water has the same effect as having three on land, affecting balance, vision, coordination and judgment.

On the water, the motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray all accelerate and increase a drinker’s impairment. Add fatigue, and a boater’s coordination, judgment, and reaction time decline.

Falling overboard, missteps at the dock and falling when boarding a boat cause most injuries and fatalities. Judgment and balance are the first signs of impairment, and once overboard, an intoxicated person is more likely to inhale water into his or her lungs when submerged in cold water.

The Legal Consequences of a BUII

Since boat operators bear the burden of responsibility to the safety of their passengers and other boaters and swimmers, they are held to similar requirements as the driver of a motor vehicle.

In Oregon, a boater is considered legally “under the influence” if the boater’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher, but Marine officers can still arrest boaters for observed impairment below 0.08 percent.

A drug or alcohol-impaired boat operator who is arrested for Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants (BUII) faces the following:

  • Fines of up to $6,250 and up to one year in jail
  • Loss of boat operation privileges for a certain period of time
  • Boat registration suspended for up to three years

The Marine Board encourages boaters to leave the alcohol at the dock. It’s safer for everyone.