Nothing says summer quite like getting out onto open water. Whether you have a personal motorized watercraft like a Jet-ski or a boat, you can enjoy a rush of fresh air on your face and the cool spray of water in the sunshine. Chances are good that when you head for the water, other people will also be there, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the water.
Unfortunately, some of those people will overindulge in alcoholic beverages. Dehydration from the hot summer sun may exacerbate the symptoms of intoxication in some people. That could quickly turn into a tragic accident if someone decides to get into a motorized watercraft while under the influence. Understanding the law can help you stand up for your rights after a drunk boater changes your world.
Boating under the influence is against the law
Just about everyone knows that driving a car or motorcycle while drunk is a crime. Not as many people realize that Connecticut also has laws against boating while under the influence.
When you think about it, the ban on intoxicated boating makes a lot of sense. Boats can also travel at high speeds. They could collide with people swimming, fishing or riding on other boats. Drunk boaters could be at increased risk for injury or death if they fall into the water.
The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for boating is 0.08 percent — the same as for cars. Anyone whose test shows a BAC of that level or higher could face boating under the influence (BUI) charges. Those who get caught with a first offense face a fine, loss of boating privileges for a year, and either six months in jail or probation and 100 hours of community service. Penalties are higher for repeat offenders and those who injure others or cause property damage. It is also a crime to refuse a chemical test when operating a boat.
Drunk boaters can cause severe injuries and death
As with any kind of motor vehicle, there is personal and public risk involved with operating a boat. Anyone who drives or rides in a boat could end up severely injured or killed as a result. When other people are out boating under the influence on the same body of water, your risk could be even higher.
Drunk boaters could run over and injure or kill swimmers. They could collide with other people in boats, causing catastrophic property damage and severe injuries. The people who suffer injuries or lose a loved one to drunk boaters have the right to push back. Both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits may be viable options for those whose lives have been adversely affected by impaired boaters.