If you are like most North Carolinians, you count down the days until you can be relaxing on a beach or lake having fun in the sun. What most people don’t dream of is being involved in a boating accident caused by alcohol. The unfortunate reality is that these happen far more frequently than anyone would hope. Luckily, by following our list of safety tips below, you may be able to prevent a tragedy.
Summer can be broken up into three major holidays: Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. North Carolina Law Enforcement has labeled these holidays the three most dangerous and busy weekends of the summer. Pairing with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD), they are conducting their 10th annual “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign to help raise awareness and keep everyone safe.
MADD, Boating, and NC Law Enforcement Sobriety Checkpoints
Founded in 1980, MADD is a nonprofit organization grounded in their passion to put a stop to drunk driving, wherever it might happen. This year marks the 10th annual “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign hosted by MADD, The NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and State Highway Patrol. North Carolina law enforcement plays an essential part of this campaign by conducting sobriety checkpoints.
These checkpoints will look very similar to a standard traffic stop. If you are out on the water, a police or sheriff boat will flash their lights and slowly approach your boat. They may ask for your license and registration. During this interaction, they will be on the lookout for obvious signs of alcohol in the driver: glassy eyes, slurred speech, slow motor skills, etc. They will also take inventory of the other passengers on the boat. If someone seems to be in need of medical help, the officer may order the driver to take them to shore or summon aid.
Are North Carolina Laws Regarding Drinking and Driving Different on a Boat than in a Car?
NC laws regarding alcohol consumption behind the wheel are focused on one number: 0.08. Similar to driving a car, a boat driver cannot have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at or above 0.08.
What about the other passengers? With the exception of liquor, it is legal to have an open container on a boat. In contrast, if you were to have an open container in a car, you could be facing a suspended license or jail time. On a boat, it’s perfectly fine.
Does this increased flexibility mean that driving a boat is easier than driving a car? Absolutely not. On the road, drivers can quickly brake or change lanes. On a boat, there are no brakes, only neutral. Sometimes, especially if the current is guiding the boats together, there is no way to stop an accident from happening. Adding alcohol to this situation slows drivers’ reaction times and impairs judgement, further increasing the chances of an accident. This is why it is crucial for drivers to yield, keep their distance, and stay sober.
How to Prevent Alcohol Related Boating Accidents
The risk of encountering a drunk driver on the water shouldn’t ruin your holiday plans. Follow these strategies to make the most of your time while staying safe.
- Don’t let anyone drive your boat if they have been drinking.
- Keep an eye on other drivers to see if they may be driving under the influence. Such behaviors can include: driving very slow or very fast, having no regard for the boats/people around them, cutting off other drivers, and many more.
- Be aware that you may go through a sobriety checkpoint. Be polite and accommodating.
- Yield to other boats, watercraft, and swimmers.
- Know the number of your local police, the Coast Guard, and local boat services to call if you believe there may be an unsafe driver on the water.
North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys Evaluate Your Claim Free
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident on the water, don’t hesitate to call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys is ready to help, and we’re here to answer your calls 24/7.