Boating can be great fun for the whole family on the weekends or during vacations. However, drinking and boating can be a potentially deadly mix that could harm you, your family, or others on the water. Learn more about boating under the influence.

Boating Under The Influence

Boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal in Washington State. More importantly, boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can put you, your family, and others on the water in danger of serious injury or death. All in all, an estimated 30 percent of boat accidents involve alcohol.

When you drink and drive a boat, you may not realize how quickly the alcohol is affecting your ability to control the boat - because of exposure to the sun, spray, vibration, engine noise, and wind for hours, boater fatigue can make you drunker on less alcohol and faster.

Driving a boat while drunk can be dangerous in a number of ways - your vision is impaired, making it harder for you to focus, see approaching objects, or avoid obstacles. Your judgment is also lost, making drunk boaters more likely to speed, engage in dangerous activities, and react correctly in an emergency. Also, your physical coordination is lost, making it difficult to react quickly to dangers, keep your balance, and coordinate boating maneuvers.

Finally, boating under the influence can be more dangerous than driving under the influence because most boat operators have much less experience behind the wheel of a boat then behind the wheel of a car - in fact, the US Coast Guard reported that while most people drive cars everyday, boaters only log an average of 110 boating hours a year.

Drinking while boating can also make you more prone to falling or going overboard.

Boating under the influence in Washington State is a criminal misdemeanor. A BUI conviction can lead to a fine of $1,000 and 90 days in jail. Just like the laws for driving cars or trucks, the legal blood alcohol content level is 0.08.