Much like driving under the influence, boating while drunk is a serious offense that, when it causes an accident, results in severe penalties far more reaching than just financial. A person who causes an accident due to captaining a boat while inebriated can be charged with boating under the influence. He or she can also be held liable for injuries caused by an alcohol-related boating accident.
Boating Under the Influence and “Boater’s Hypnosis”
To some, boating might seem like an ideal opportunity for heavy drinking. On hot summer days when people are out enjoying the weather, beers on a motorboat may appear to be a harmless way to pass the time. However, the BoatUS Foundation, a leader in promoting safe and responsible boating, has released warnings about the effects of this dangerous combination. They say drinking and boating produces a state of mind called “boater’s hypnosis.”
According to the BoatUS Foundation, drinking while boating becomes dangerous when one considers all the many ways boating may irritate an inebriated person. These could include:
- Harsh, reflective sunlight
- Loud sounds
- Heavy vibrations
- Winds and motion
The BoatUS Foundation said that when drunk boaters experience these conditions they enter into a sort of fatigue, or “boater’s hypnosis.” This state lowers a person’s reaction time in much the same way as drunkenness.
People found guilty of boating while drunk may have to face time in prison and pay exorbitant court fees. That is of little importance when compared to the human damage that can be caused by drunk boating accidents, however.
Boating While Drunk and Wrongful Death
Boating while drunk can have immediate, mortal repercussions for the people enjoying boat activities. Tubing deaths, waterskiing accidents, or a crashed boat are just some of the possible outcomes. Alcohol consumption impairs a person’s balance. When a person is tipsy, the unsteady motion of the boat can be lethal. About one in four boating fatalities is caused by falling overboard and drowning.
Boating accidents claim hundreds of lives every year. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Drugs and alcohol are involved in approximately half of all boating accidents. In cases where the primary factor of the death is known, alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 19% of deaths.
Like with any accident that results in injury or death, the wounded party has the option to open a civil case against any negligent parties who contributed to the accident. Wrongful death cases can be brought against a drunk boater who caused someone’s death. The family may be entitled to receive economic damages for:
- Funeral and burial expense
- Medical expenses incurred before the death
- Loss of their income
They may also seek non-economic damages, including:
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of the loved’s one’s contribution to household chores and parenting
While drinking and boating may seem like a fun way to bask in the sun, it can end in destruction, embarrassment, and, in some cases, death.
People who attempt this lethal combination may soon be under the spell of “boater’s hypnosis,” significantly weakening their ability to respond to the changes in the water.