Drunk driving is not only a threat onshore and with cars. Drunk boating has also been a major factor in wrongful death in lakes and rivers in this country. It was uncovered that alcohol was the major contributor and the primary factor in 15 percent of fatal boating accident deaths in 2016. There were 4,500 boating accidents and more than 700 deaths in these accidents that year, according to the American Boating Association. People who have a blood alcohol content of at least 0.10 percent are 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than sober boaters.
Alcohol may have a greater effect on boaters because of the sun and water. On land, people may have a few drinks over time without suffering significant impairment. But, having the same number of drinks on the water may have greater impact. Alcohol impairs focus, memory, the ability to process information and slows reaction time and reflexes, which diminishes the ability to safely operate a boat. It also adds greater dangers to water by causing disruptions in the inner which diminishes water lifesaving skills because a person has more difficulty distinguishing between up and down.
It also interferes with executive functions, which may have a person act more impulsively, take bigger risks and overestimate their abilities. On the water, for example, a person may overestimate their swimming ability. It can cause hypothermia by distorting body temperature. These dangers increase for people who are in charge of operating a boat. Drinking can increase the likelihood of driving recklessly and at excessive speeds, falling off the boat and drowning. This multiplies the risk to passengers, other boaters and to the drunk boater.
For these reasons, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol violates federal law. Anyone who operates a boat while intoxicated in Kentucky also commits an offense under state law and may be arrested. Families who suffer the loss of a loved one in a fatal boating accident caused by a drunk or negligent driver may be entitled to compensation. They should seek legal representation so that they can pursue their legal cause of action.