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Boaters Who Drink and Drive Can Be Held Liable

Aug 30, 2021

Operating a boat is a serious responsibility, as the safety of passengers and others on the water depends on the competence of operators. Just like in road vehicles, there’s a limit on how much alcohol an operator can consumer and still drive legally.

When boat operators are intoxicated, they not only endanger others, they also open themselves up to liability if they cause an accident that injures someone else.

Drinking and Boating Is Against the Law

In Michigan, it is illegal to operate a boat with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, just like it is for drivers on Michigan roads. Boat operators under the age of 21 aren’t allowed to have any alcohol in their system.

If law enforcement catches a boat operator who is intoxicated, they can charge the boater with a misdemeanor. If a boater receives three convictions for driving under the influence within 10 years, they’ll be charged with a felony. And if a boat operator causes serious harm or death to others, they’ll also be charged with a felony, even if it’s a first offense.

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

The amount of alcohol it takes to exceed the 0.08% BAC threshold depends on several factors, including the weight of the drinker and how much they’ve had to eat. Though some boat operators might technically still be under the legal limit after a drink or two, it’s best to avoid consuming any alcohol whatsoever when you’ll be operating a boat.

As the person driving the boat, the operator has a responsibility to keep their passengers and others safe. Boaters with a BAC of 0.08% can be charged with BUI (boating under the influence). Even if a boater has a BAC under 0.08%, they can still be impaired, and can be charged with what’s called a BWVI (boating while visibly impaired).

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, once a person’s BAC reaches 0.04%, their performance worsens. Even at 0.02% BAC, a boat operator’s judgment, multi-tasking abilities, and visual functions decline. At 0.05% BAC, coordination, steering, response time, and the ability to track moving objects are impaired.

Your Rights When Injured by an Intoxicated Boater

If you’re injured by an intoxicated boat operator, you have the right to pursue compensation for the injury-related costs you face. In some personal injury claims involving negligent boat operators, the injured party needs to build an extensive case demonstrating who was at fault. However, when the boat operator has been drinking, building a strong case is far easier.

When you’re injured by a negligent boat operator, you can demand payment for medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and any other injury-related costs. When you’re owed compensation, it’s always best to consider hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your claim.

An attorney can determine how much you’re truly owed and deal with the insurance company on your behalf. You can focus on your health and your recovery.

If You Need Help, Contact Fieger Law

The Michigan boat accident lawyers at Fieger Law have years of experience handling all types of personal injury claims, including those involving boat accidents. If you’re considering your next move, let Fieger Law give you a free consultation to help you better understand your legal options.

Contact Fieger Law today to schedule your free case assessment.