Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous, illegal activity that often results in fatalities. In fact, almost half of the total number of boating accident are drug or alcohol-related. The most recent alcohol-related fatalities statistics involving boat accidents in the state of Illinois was 51 out of 217 in 2012, or nearly one of every four under the influence boating accidents.
In fact, statistics show that alcohol use is often significantly more dangerous on water environments than on land. The vibration and motion of the boat, along with sun, wind, engine noise and spray seem to accelerate the impairment of the drinker. Boaters often become very fatigued at a quicker rate than an automobile driver. This tends to decline their coordination, reaction time and judgment, especially when drugs or alcohol consumption is involved.
The abilities of a boat operator behind the wheel tend to be greatly influenced by drugs and alcohol. This is because many boaters lack confidence and have minimal experience on the water when compared to driving a motorized vehicle on dry land. In addition, alcohol is recognized as a depressant that creates negative effects on the central nervous system. As a result, the operator has altered balance, vision, coordination and judgment.
Common kinds of Illinois boating accidents often involve the consumption of drugs or alcohol where the boat capsized or operator/passengers fell overboard. In addition, an operator of motorized water vessels with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.10 percent or higher is over 10 times as likely to suffer a fatality when involved in a boating accident when compared to a boater not consuming alcohol.
The Effects of Alcohol on Boat Operator Judgment
Boating under the influence of alcohol can threaten the well-being and safety of passengers and operators out on the open water. Anytime passengers and boat operators consume alcohol many of their abilities are greatly affected. Common effects of alcohol consumption include:
- Deterioration of Abilities – Both judgment and cognitive abilities easily deteriorate with the consumption of alcohol. This makes it significantly more challenging to assess a situation, process information, and make quality choices.
- Impairment of Physical Performance – Alcohol can easily cause a lack of coordination, create significant balance issues, and increase the amount of time it takes to react to a situation.
- Affected Vision – Individuals that if consumed alcohol tend to have affected vision, where there is a decrease in peripheral and night vision. Alcohol tends to diminish the ability to visually focus, and reduces depth perception. Many passengers and boat operators lose their ability to distinguish colors, especially green and red.
- Inner Ear Disturbance – Alcohol can cause a disturbance of the inner ear, making it impossible for any passenger or operator falling overboard to distinguish the difference between up-and-down.
- A False Sense of Warmth – Drinking alcohol produces a false sensation of body warmth. This false physical sensation might create a scenario where an individual in cold water does not get out before hypothermia occurs, causing significant damage to the body, or death.
Illinois Toughens Standard When It Comes To BUI To Include: Operating A Moving or Sitting In A Parked Boat
In the state of Illinois, boat operators can be charged with BUI in a moving, or parked, water vessel. Boaters with the breath or blood alcohol concentration equal to or greater than 0.08 percent is considered to be illegally operating the vessel. This is because that amount renders the boater incapable of operating the watercraft safely.
It is the duty and responsibility of every boater to be aware of every potential risk involved in boating while under the influence. There are specific penalties and laws associated with reckless activity. In Illinois, it is illegal to operate any watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard is the enforcer of federal laws that prohibit BUI. This legislation extends to all types of watercraft including rowboats, canoes, paddle boats, foreign vessels and large ships in American waters, including Illinois lakes and rivers along with Late Michigan.
There are significant penalties for anyone convicted of a BUI. Often times, the responsible parties are subject to identical penalties as a driver of an automobile operating the vehicle under the influence. This could include a suspension or revocation of a driver’s license, substantial fines, probation and possible jail time. It is essential to maintain safety while enjoying the water, by leaving alcohol and drugs off the boat.Boating Accident Attorneys Prosecuting Alcohol-Related Incidents For Injured People
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC recognizes the dangers an impaired boat operator has on the people in his boat and in the immediate surroundings. While there may be a boating culture that has come to accept the combination of boating and alcohol consumption, we are committing to securing the most favorable outcome for our clients who have been injured in that preventable situations.
Our boat accident attorneys regularly persecute these cause using the full extent of Illinois law to protect our client’s interest. If you we involved in an Illinois boating accident where you suspect alcohol or drugs may have played a role, we encourage you to contact our office for a complimentary case evaluation where you can speak to an attorney without cost or obligation.