Winter seems to be giving way to spring, and boaters are getting their boats ready for the water. Being on the water produces such great memories! Boaters love to relax and let their hair down while on the water. One of the consistent questions we hear “ Can I drink and drive my boat?” or “ Are there open container laws on boats?” or “Do they really enforce drinking and driving laws for boats?”. Some answers to “Can I drink and drive my boat” are very clear cut. Other answers to drinking and driving a boat are more based in common sense.
Can I drink and drive my boat?
In most states, You are allowed to have open containers of alcohol, your passengers can drink, and even the person piloting the boat can drink as long as they don't meet the criterion for DUI. However, be aware that Harbor Patrol and other officers will look for open containers on boats. Keep in mind these guidelines apply to those of legal drinking age. You can never drink alcohol on your boat if you are under age!
In this case, I would say just because it is permissible in most states to drink and drive a boat is it the best choice?
Can passengers on a boat drink?
The simple answer to this question is yes, passengers on a boat can drink. Most states allow for open containers on a boat. Please check our state’s laws. (this is information that should be covered in your boat safety course.) As a passenger, you should keep in mind alcohol can impair your judgement, so you may act in a way that would jeopardize your safety or be unable to help in an emergency. Always keep in mind, if something happens to the boat drier you may be called upon to drive the boat.
Can I get a DUI when driving a boat?
Contrary to rumors that go around, you can get a BUI - Boating Under the Influence. These are laws not taken lightly. Consequences for BUI range from financial fines, loss of boating privileges to jail time. The legal limit for drinking and driving is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% g/dL, and the same is true for operating a boat. This applies to any boat, including a canoe, kayak, Stand up paddle board or rowboat.
BUI is not only limited to alcohol!
BUI means boating under the influence of any intoxicant, including both legal and illegal drugs. You can get a BUI while under the influence of a prescribed medication if it is determined that the medication caused operator impairment.
Alcohol is the leading cause of Boating Accidents!
Although it may be legal to drink alcohol on your boat, it is a risky choice. Many boating organizations report alcohol as the leading cause of boating accidents and boating fatalities. Boating helps create so many amazing memories, one alcohol related accident could spoil your great boating memories.
You can have a lot more fun on your boat without alcohol ! You protect yourself, your passengers and other boaters on the water.
I’d say the old saying , “Just because your can, doesn’t mean you should”, totally applies to drinking while driving your boat!
***(this is a general information article- please refer to your own state’s boater safety laws)