Boating Under the Influence: How BUI is More Than Just Drinking and Boating

Boating and a good time go together like spaghetti and meatballs, peanut butter and jelly and, well, boats and water. However, a good time can go bad fast when you add booze to your boating fun. Now, we’re no prudes, but boating under the influence (BUI) is a seriously dangerous practice when enjoying your time on the water.

Though we’ve written on the danger of drinking and boating in the past, one fact is often overlooked on the subject of BUI: alcohol is just one of many dangerous drugs that could affect your ability to operate your vessel. Let’s reveal the risks of BUI and some of the lesser-considered intoxicants that can spell big trouble for your next trip.

BUI Laws and Facts

  • Laws May Vary: Specifics of BUI law may differ by state, so it’d be wise to review your state’s specific laws before hitting the water. A safe bet? The vast majority of states base their BUI laws around the operator’s blood alcohol content, which is often over the limit at .08 percent and above. All states do have some form of BUI laws in place, however.
  • Drugs and Boating Do Not Mix: Operating a boat is no simple task. From the multitude of unknowns you’re constantly dealing with, such as weather and fellow boaters, to safely navigating even well-known waters, you need your wits about you. Alcohol and other drugs can affect your vision, reaction time and judgement, leading to possible accidents that would have been fully preventable.
  • More Than Just Booze: Yes, alcohol is a drug (and a quite popular one at that). However, the list of intoxicants does not end at a couple cans of beer or your favorite cocktail. Of course, recreational drugs also bring risks of their own–something especially important to remember with the growing push to legalize marijuana. Remember, just because it may be legal to consume, does not mean that it will not impair your ability to operate your vessel. This includes prescription medication. Yes, even if you are prescribed a drug, if it indicates that it could affect your ability to operate a vehicle, you should think twice before hitting the water.
  • Not Worth the Risks: If caught boating under the influence, you could face everything from fines all the way up to jail time in the most serious of cases. Even if not caught by authorities, understand that BUI puts yourself, your vessel, your passengers and anyone sharing the water with you at risk. Plain and simply, it’s not worth it.

Though laws may vary, it’s safe to say that BUI is never acceptable, regardless of specific regulations. Whether overindulging in drinks or recreational drugs, or even taking prescribed medication, if you are inebriated, you cannot be as safe a boater as you should be when so much can go so wrong. So, be safe, boat safe, and maybe wait until you’re back on shore before you toss a couple back. We’ll see you on the water.