Don't Sink A Good Time, Carry A Designated Operator On Board
Summer is the time of year when you can get on the water and enjoy boating, water activities, and spending additional time with family and friends. For some people, these activities include drinking alcoholic beverages. For many boat operators, they don’t know that they can become impaired more quickly than a driver, drink for drink, Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a crime and can include large fines, losing your operating license, and even potentially jail time. In addition, alcohol on boats by both the operator and/or their family and friends is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities.
You Wouldn't DUI, So Why BUI?
Every boater needs to understand the risks of Boating Under the Influence (BUI). In Michigan, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Michigan Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI. This law pertains to ALL boats from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships on the Great Lakes.
Dangers of Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments increase the likelihood of boating accidents for both passengers and boat operators. In addition, by not responsibly locking up your alcoholic beverages on board, you could be promoting underage drinking- do you notice if your youth or their friend is sneaking any alcohol?
Alcohol use by the boat operator or riders is even more hazardous on the water than on land. Being on the lake with the boat’s 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.
Alcohol can also be more dangerous to boaters because boat operators are often less experienced and less confident on the water than on a highway. Recreational boaters don’t have the benefit of experiencing daily boat operation. In fact, Michigan boaters average only 75 hours on the water per year.
Have Fun on the Water While Safely Boating
Boating, fishing and other water sports are fun in their own right. Alcohol can turn a great day on the water into a great tragedy. So boat responsible and don’t bring alcohol on your boat, stay cool and hydrated with water, lemonade or non-alcoholic beer! And don’t forget, a boat is still a vehicle – and a BUI is a crime!
To learn more about Summer Safety Facts, visit Risky Drinking Can Put A Chill on Your Summer Fun.