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Coast Guard warns of dangers of alcohol and boating as National Safe Boating Week continues

May 20, 2015

Media Note: Coast Guard spokespersons in your area may be available to discuss the importance of safe boating for the duration of National Safe Boating Week. Please contact us at 216-902-6020 to check on availability. If there is no answer, wait for a voicemail prompt to be forwarded to a 24/7 on-call duty public affairs specialist.

Fireman James Dunaway, from Coast Guard Station Marblehead, Ohio, shares an anecdote of a law enforcement boarding where alcohol was involved, May 4, 2015.

Law enforcement teams from Station Marblehead lead the Great Lakes region in issuing boating under the influence citations.

U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin


CLEVELAND — As National Safe Boating Week continues, the Coast Guard 9th District reminds boaters of the dangers of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol.

According to the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety's 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents during 2014, contributing to 21% of deaths on the water.

When the Coast Guard determines that an operator is impaired due to alcohol, the operator’s voyage may be terminated and the operator may be arrested or turned over to state or local authorities. The vessel may be brought to a mooring by the Coast Guard or turned over to a competent and sober passenger.

Boateres found in violation of BUI laws face both federal and state penalties. The federal statute can be found in Title 46, U.S. Code, Section 2302. Penalties can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms.

Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents afloat for both passengers and boat operators. Coast Guard accident data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, more than half of the victims either capsized their boat or fell overboard.

Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land. Elements of the marine environment— motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray — accelerate a drinker's impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator's coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.

The Coast Guard 9th District also published a blog about federal BUIs and myths about boating and drinking.

The Coast Guard released a new smartphone app for boaters, called United States Coast Guard, Saturday. As the nation's recreational boating safety coordinator, the Coast Guard works to minimize loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and environmental harm. The Coast Guard's boating safety program involves public education programs, regulation of boat design and construction, approval of boating safety equipment, and vessel safety checks for compliance with federal and state safety requirements. The Coast Guard mobile app supports these missions by providing the essential services and information most commonly requested by boaters.


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