National Safe Boating Week: Alcohol and Water Don’t Mix
Drinking afloat affects boaters more -- and more quickly -- than on land. Alcohol can turn a great day on the water into the tragedy of a lifetime.
Having a "designated operator" who abstains is smart. But it's also important that passengers don't over indulge, for the safety of all aboard. A few tips for responsible passenger consumption:
-If you want to include alcoholic drinks, plan a picnic or party ashore.
-Serve hearty snacks or a meal with soft drinks and water.
-Measure wine and the liquor in mixed drinks to make sure you aren't super-sizing portions.
-Use juices rather than carbonated beverages for mixers (carbonation speeds alcohol absorption.)
-Encourage passengers to alternate nonalcoholic beverages with alcoholic drinks.
-Be cautious if anyone is taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs - many, including medications, commonly used for motion sickness, can interact with or accelerate and intensify the effects of alcohol.
-Stop serving well in advance of the group's return to the boat, to allow the effects of alcoholic beverages to dissipate. Be aware which passengers will be drivers at the end of your outing.
FYI - Federal law and most states use the same standards of impairment for boat operation as for driving. The federal limit is .08% blood alcohol content for intoxication. However, boating authorities may charge an operator with boating under the influence with a lower BAC if they observe signs and indicators of impairment.
The consequences for BUI can be severe, including steep fines (which are often multiplied if a minor is aboard) and significant jail time. Increasingly, BUI can affect your driving record and cause suspension of driving privileges, just like DUI. And serious injury or death resulting from BUI can result in felony charges.
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