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Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Although the concept of penalties related to driving a car while under the influence is understood by Louisianans, many may be surprised to know that similar penalties exist for operating a boat while under the influence as well. In fact, over half of all boating accidents are the result of an operator being impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Boating under the influence is defined by most states as operating a vessel on a body of water while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Typically, the blood alcohol level required for such a charge is .08, although some states have increased that level to .10. The Coast Guard has stated that operating a boat while impaired by alcohol is more dangerous than driving a car under the same level of impairment. Boat operators can be pulled over similar to other drivers and may also be subject to checkpoints intended to ascertain a boater's level of impairment.

The consequences of boating under the influence are significant including criminal records, heavy fines and possible jail time. If such a charge is pursued for an operator while participating in recreational boating activities, they may lose their boating license. Additionally, if an impaired boat operator is involved in a collision with another vessel and injuries result, they may be liable for any ensuing financial damages. Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is deemed to be a negligent act that may result in significant monetary liability for the boater.

Those injured by an impaired boat operator should be aware of this potential liability, as they may pursue compensation from the boater. A personal injury attorney can be consulted to assist with this process to allow for coverage of resulting medical expenses and loss of income.

Source: Findlaw, "Boating Under the Influence Basics," accessed on Apr. 12, 2015

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