Lake Lanier Tragedy Reminds Us of the Dangers of Drunk Boating

As illustrated by Monday’s post about a deadly drunk boating accident in Georgia, boating under the influence is extremely dangerous. In fact, according to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), alcohol was the leading factor in 16 percent of recreational boating deaths last year. The family and friends of 9-year-old Jake Prince and 13-year-old Griffin Prince now know firsthand how devastating a drunk boating accident can be, having laid to rest the beloved brothers on July 3.

So what makes drunk boating so dangerous? Boat operators must be alert and able to react quickly in hazardous situations, and alcohol can inhibit their ability to do so. Alcohol impairs a person’s judgment, vision, balance and coordination, and according to the USCG, these impairments are often accelerated in a marine environment by “motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray.”

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that a boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 or above has a tenfold risk of dying in a boating accident over a boat operator with a BAC of zero. To keep oneself and one’s passengers safe, the USCG recommends that boat operators:

  • Pack non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food and snacks
  • Wear cool clothes
  • Limit one’s trip to avoid fatigue
  • If alcohol is to be involved in the day’s activities, consume it onshore at a dock, picnic area, boating club or backyard
  • Wait a reasonable amount of time after consuming alcohol before operating a boat (at least one hour per drink)
  • Consider a no-alcohol policy on the boat — intoxicated passengers are at greater risk of falling overboard

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by someone boating under the influence, visit our website for more information about drunk boating, and fill out the contact form on our website for a free consultation with a dedicated Boston maritime attorney.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers