Pennsylvania has numerous lakes, rivers, canals and other waterways that provide recreation in the summer months. Unfortunately, some boat operators equate drinking with being on the water, and this can have serious consequences. Boating under the influence has the same penalties as driving under the influence, and it is important that everyone understands that law enforcement takes it seriously.
According to FindLaw, a BUI occurs when the operator of any watercraft on any body of water is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drinking and/or taking drugs contributes to over 50% of boating accidents, and alcohol use increases fatal crashes by 34%. While the effects of alcohol interfere with driving on land, there is an even bigger effect when on the water. This is due to factors such as the wind, sun, heat, water motion and noise.
While some may think a BUI has consequences similar to a traffic ticket or other minor offense, this is not true. A BUI comes with the same penalties as a DUI, and these may include:
- Loss of boating license
- Driver's license suspension
According to the Pennsylvania Pressroom, alcohol contributed to three deaths in the state last year, and law enforcement is out in full force to ensure everyone is following boating laws, including those regarding alcohol and drugs. Boaters should expect more officers on the water and at checkpoints, and they can conduct sobriety tests right on the spot.
Along with abstaining from alcohol, there are other things boat operators and passengers can do to improve safety on the water. Taking a boating safety course can significantly reduce the amount of accidents, and wearing life jackets can cut down on the number of drownings.