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Brett Rivkind
Brett Rivkind
Attorney • (305) 374-0565

Recreational Boating Fatalities Increased Due to Boating Under the Influence

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According to the United States Coast Guard’s report, 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics, which I previously wrote about, recreational boating fatalities jumped last year to the highest levels they have been at since 1998. This alarming statistic highlights the need for greater awareness of safety risks with recreational boating, and the need for increased enforcement of various violations that are occurring on the waterways by users of recreational boats.

It was reported that boating under the influence (BUI) was the leading contributing factor to the high levels of recreational boating fatalities reported.

Marine Law enforcement officers nationwide are turning out for what has been labeled Operation Dry Water (OPW), which is an annual campaign focusing on enforcement of BUI laws as well as educating boaters about the risks of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. We have similar campaigns addressing operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and the problem is also one that we find on our waterways involving recreational boating.

As part of Operation Dry Water 2012, which is held June 22, 2012 to June 24, 2012, anyone caught operating a boat under the influence is going to find their venture terminated, as well as the boat impounded. Penalties associated with the violation may include arrest, fines, loss of boating privileges, and even loss of driving privileges in some states.

It is a violation of Federal Law, as well as most state laws, for an individual with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher to operate a recreational boat. Boating under the influence continues to be a major problem in the United States and accounts for a disproportional number of the deaths that occur on the waterways. Although it has been reported that alcohol was a contributing factor in only six percent of the boating accidents overall, it was reported to be a contributing factor in 16 percent of boating fatalities.

With July 4th right around the corner, Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009, along with the United States Coast Guard, has put thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcements officers on the waterways in order to provide BUI enforcement with high visibility during this holiday known for mixing alcohol and boating. This is a time where there is a higher percentage of deadly accidents reported involving recreational boating.

Our firm is safety advocates for safer laws that affect anyone who use the waterways as a mode of transportation for recreational purposes, or those who decide to be passengers onboard a cruise ship. We advocate strong safety laws, and we are safety advocates for those who are injured or harmed at sea. Boaters should know the risk of drinking and boating, are just as great as the risk of driving under the influence in an automobile.

All of the 56 states are expected to participate in Operation Dry Water 2012, educating the public and being on the lookout for boat operators whose blood alcohol concentration exceeds the national legal limits of .08. More information about Operation Dry Water can be found by visiting OperationDryWater.org.