Summertime Is Coming – So Are Drinking-and-Boating Accidents
A day of adventure on the water can turn into a nightmare if another boater decides to drink and drive—a far too common occurrence on Lake Havasu. With 300 days of virtually perfect weather, more than 400 events per year, and a pristine, 450-mile shoreline, it is no wonder that Lake Havasu attracts more than 2,500,000 visitors to its shores annually. And as summer approaches, we’ll be seeing more boat accidents.
Alcohol and Boating: a Deadly Combination
More than 750,000 people come here to fish and relax for the summer, but do they all adhere to the rules of boating (and common sense)? Many visitors to the area are not boat owners, are inexperienced, and are looking to have a good time. Unfortunately, this often involves consuming alcohol. A leisurely, scenic boat ride can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, but a collision between boats can turn a happy summer day into disaster, with the potential for drowning, lacerations, spinal cord injury, and more.
Everyone knows that alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination; which is why it is illegal to operate a car, truck, or bus while under its influence. Whether driving a car or a boat, the maximum legal BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is .08% in Arizona. This might lead you to believe that drinking and driving and drinking while operating a boat are comparable activities, but they are not.
The Dangers of Boating While Impaired
Boating has many more variables than driving, including the depth of the water, submerged objects beneath the surface, currents, the size of waves, and the direction of the wind.
There are no lanes, street signs, or lights out on the water, and some watercraft do not have lights to illuminate their surroundings. Dealing with this is challenging enough when you are sober, and the dangers are magnified when you’re tipsy. Also, the sun, wind, rain, noise on the water, and the rocking motion of the boat can intensify the effects of drugs, alcohol, and some medications, making it even more difficult to safely operate a watercraft.
In addition, fatigue affects an operator’s ability to react to threats on the water. It’s one thing to be sitting comfortably on car seat, with a steering wheel adding to your body’s stability. It is far more fatiguing to be tensing and relaxing muscles to constantly adjust and maintain balance on a rocking boat.
Busting Some Boating Myths
Did you know…
- Myth: You can only be cited or fined if your blood alcohol concentration is over the .08% legal limit.
- Truth: You can be cited or fined if you are found to be operating a boat dangerously and putting others at risk, whether you are above the legal limit or not.
- Myth: BUI (Boating Under the Influence, also known as OUI—Operating Under the Influence) laws only apply if you are operating a motorized vessel.
- Truth: Whether you are operating a rowboat, a canoe, a sailboat or a speedboat, your blood alcohol level must be below the .08% legal limit.
- Myth: You cannot be cited or held liable if you are only using prescribed, legal medications.
- Truth: Boating under the influence applies to any substance that can impair your judgment, response time, etc., and create a dangerous situation, including legally prescribed medications.
BUI laws were modeled after DUI laws, and the penalties are similar. The first and second offense are considered misdemeanors, and aggravated BUI is a felony crime. Depending on the circumstances, the penalties can include expensive fines and incarceration. A BUI conviction that leads to the suspension of a boating license can also lead to a revocation of your driver’s license.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Boating Accident on Lake Havasu?
As with any personal injury case, establishing who is liable—that is, legally responsible for the cost of the accident—is critical. This requires not just knowledge of the law, but the ability to collect vital evidence, including sobriety test results for the other people involved in the accident. Alcohol consumption is one of the main causes of boating injuries on Lake Havasu, and our lawyers will take action to preserve the evidence that will support your claim.
Get the Help You Deserve from Personal Injury Lawyers in Phoenix
Call The Husband and Wife Law Team for immediate assistance after a boating injury. Mark Breyer is a certified specialist in injury and wrongful death law. This is an elite designation achieved by only about 1% of all Arizona lawyers. You can be confident that your case will be in the hands of Phoenix’s finest personal injury lawyers. We have a proven track record of success and have earned many awards, including being listed as a “Best Law Firm.” We are members of the elite Million Dollar Advocates Forum, only offered to personal injury attorneys who have achieved settlements or jury verdicts of a million dollars or more. We are personally dedicated to the people we represent.
At Breyer Law Offices, P.C., we work on a contingency-fee basis, which means no out-of-pocket expenses or upfront costs—we only get paid when your case is resolved in your favor. Call us at (602) 267-1280 for a free case evaluation.