Most people are familiar with the law that you cannot drink and drive a motor vehicle. It is a common sense law that when operating vehicles that can weigh several tons that you have to be sober and alert lest you cause an accident and injure others on the road. No one disagrees with that, yet few make the leap that this is just as relevant on the water as it is on the road. A recent death involving a San Bernardino family due to a drunk driving incident involving watercraft shows the dangers of drinking while operating a watercraft.
The facts are similar to many drunk driving accidents on the road. While boating on the Colorado River, three San Bernardino County residents were struck by a 20 foot long ski boat operated by a drunk driver. One passenger was killed and the two others were put into the hospital with serious injuries. The man behind the wheel of the boat was arrested for operating a watercraft while intoxicated and is facing manslaughter charges.
Drinking and Boating Do Not Mix. Operating a boat while under the influence is a crime under California law. The California Harbors and Navigation Code states that penalties for boating while intoxicated may include up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. Merely by operating a water vessel on California waters, you have already consented to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs if arrested by a law enforcement officer. Refusal to submit to testing may result in increased penalties under law. Boating while under the influence is a misdemeanor under California law, however, this can be enhanced to a felony in certain circumstances, carrying much harsher penalties for those being charged.
A large part of the problem with drinking and boating is that it is generally considered to be socially acceptable to drink and operate a boat. There are no open container laws for boats like there are for cars in California. Many people do legally enjoy an alcoholic beverage while out on the water. However, if you are found drinking and are involved in an accident, the result will not be good for any party involved.
On the Road or On the Water Does Not Matter
Boating accidents can be just as dangerous as car accidents and even worse in circumstances where victims are thrown from a boat into the water and drown. Boating accidents cause many of the same injuries as car accidents, such as concussions, neck, spinal and brain injuries, as well as broken bones and bruising.
If you are ever involved in an accident with boating and the operator of the other boat was found to be intoxicated, even under the legal limit, it is much more likely that they will be found liable for causing the accident. Few people give any leeway to those who injure others while under the influence. Many people equate drinking with carelessness and those views show when it comes time to give a verdict in a personal injury case.
Contact an Experienced Rancho Cucamonga Personal Injury Attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured by a drunk driver, of a car, boat or other motorized vehicle, you should contact an experienced Rancho Cucamonga personal injury attorney.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Justin King can guide you through the process of recovering for your injuries and give you the best chance possible at getting you the compensation you need to get your life back on track. Contact them at +1 (909) 297-5001 for a free confidential case evaluation.