Authorities Cracking Down On Intoxicated Boating
Authorities have recently begun paying more attention to people who are drinking and boating. This crackdown, sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, aims to minimize the annual deaths due to drinking and operating a boat on our nation’s waterways.
Alcohol impairment has been the leading cause of boat accidents and injuries for the last 15 years and, for the last decade, more than 100 people every year have died in a boating accident where alcohol was thought to have played a part.
What is the plan?
So how do authorities across the country plan on ensuring that our waterways are safe? Essentially: field sobriety tests. But, due to the fact that the sobriety tests will be taking place on the water, the tests have been adapted to be executed entirely while seated, including tests such as horizontal gaze, palm pat, and hand coordination. This crackdown is being funded by the United States Coast Guard, which has been fighting for years to decrease the number of boating deaths caused by alcohol. By being able to test the suspects on the water, officers are more able to stop the problem before it becomes more of an issue and detain offenders on the water as opposed to while on land.
Some states are taking even further measures, as, according to Yahoo News, Georgia has lowered its legal boating BAC limit from .1 to .08%. And, as of July, Illinois and 14 other states have made it legal to punish drunken boaters by revoking their automobile driver’s licenses. This may come as a surprise to many people, as drinking on the water is almost a pastime. This can be seen through some of the country’s most popular boat names, including “Cirrhosis of the River,” “Aquaholic,” and others. But, considering the proven danger of drinking and operating motor vehicles on any terrain, this can’t come as a complete blindside.
What does this mean for the boating community?
Well, mostly that, when going out on the water, you are going to want to designate a boat operator. It is a matter of making sure that whoever is driving/operating the boat is in a good enough state to be doing so. It will become just like driving a car under the influence. And, just like driving a car under the influence, operating a boat can lead to serious injury, sometimes even death, and consequences can include serious prison sentences.
Law enforcement officers all around the country are backing these tests and encouraging a stronger crackdown on drunken boating, claiming that the culture of drinking on the water needs to be dialed back and at least restricted to those who are not operating the boat. And, when you really think about it, it makes logical sense. When operating any sort of machine like a boat or a car, the consequences of any sort of mistake can be fatal. When two boats collide with each other, nothing good can come of it. So, in order to assure safety for all involved – passengers and other boaters – we must take responsibility, designate an operator, and keep the drinking to those who won’t be driving.
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