Nothing says a celebratory weekend quite like going out on the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean or the Long Island Sound. Enjoying the sunshine, the light on the water and the company of friends can make such a trip incredibly relaxing.
Even landlocked lakes and rivers can offer boating opportunities. People might host a few friends to enjoy an afternoon on the water, or even try water skiing or tubing with children. Whether you are going out on a boat, planning to swim because you were training for a triathlon or want to get your personal watercraft out for the first time this year, you will want to keep an eye out for people in boats.
Some people get a little too wild on the water because they think that there are no laws that apply to their behavior or that there is little likelihood of enforcement efforts.
Alcohol and boat operation don’t mix
Connecticut law is clear. The same standards for alcohol impairment apply to those operating boats and other aquatic vessels as to those operating land-based motor vehicles.
Alcohol makes it hard for someone to focus. It makes them drowsy, alters their perception, increases reaction time and affects overall judgment. These effects can be dangerous on the road, but they can also be deadly out on the water.
Boaters don’t have a lane of traffic to follow, so their sudden reactions to the presence of another vehicle or a swimmer after drinking might do more harm than good. They could capsize the vehicle or crash into someone. Drunk boaters could cause physical trauma to nearby swimmers or even sink a nearby personal watercraft like a jet ski.
Breaking the law opens someone up to civil action
Those clearly under the influence of alcohol while operating a boat are likely liable for injuries and property damage they cause.
If there isn’t an insurance policy available to adequately compensate victims of an incident that a drunk boater causes in Connecticut or on the Connecticut waterways, then the victims of such a crash or surviving family members may have no choice but to file a civil lawsuit against the boater who put partying ahead of safety.