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Drinking and boating is as risky as drinking and driving

If you are planning to invite a few friends to join you when you take your new boat out next weekend, exercise caution: Remember that it is not legal to operate a boat when you are impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Alcohol has a far different effect when you are on the water. It poses much more danger to you and your passengers than if you were on dry land.

The element of danger

Why is having alcohol in your system more dangerous on the water? The motion and vibration of the boat, the noise of the engine, and the sun, wind and spray all combine to cause fatigue, which in turn adversely affects your reaction time and ability to make good decisions. It is estimated that if you are operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent or above, you are 10 times more likely to die in an accident on the water than an operator who is sober.

The physical effects

In addition to the decline in your cognitive abilities, drinking will cause balance issues and lack of coordination, problems that are greater in the first place by being on a boat that rocks and pitches. Alcohol will also cause a reduction in your depth perception. You will find it difficult to distinguish colors—red and green in particular—and your night vision will decrease. If you develop any kind of inner ear disturbance, and you should fall into the water, it may be impossible for you to distinguish up from down.

Different laws

There are differences in the laws between drinking and driving and drinking and boating. For example, there are differences in giving a breath test on a boat where you are already experiencing a rocking motion as opposed to a breath test on solid footing after an officer pulls you over in your car. A criminal defense attorney will tell you that it would be a mistake to think there would be no consequences if you were to drink and operate a boat. Keep in mind that if you are convicted of boating under the influence, your BUI will count as a prior DUI on your record.

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