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Driving Under the Influence is Just As Dangerous On the Water as On the Road

Every year, hundreds of people are injured or killed in boat-related accidents. According to the 2016 California Recreational Boating Accident Statistics, a data report published by the State of California Natural Resources Agency, there were 588 boating accidents in California alone. Of these accidents, 266 resulted in injuries and 50 resulted in fatalities.

Boating accidents involving a drunk boat operator can happen on privately owned boats, cruise ships, jet skis, ferries, or other watercrafts. If you have been injured in a boating accident because of a drunk driver, you should know your rights. This article will help you understand how you can obtain financial compensation when you have suffered injuries because of a negligent boat operator.

California Boating Laws

The majority of U.S. drivers are aware that driving under the influence is a serious crime that can cause extensive harm to others. Responsible drivers know that they need to be fully alert when operating a vehicle in effort of avoiding unnecessary accidents. Unfortunately, many people will fail to recognize that boating demands just as much careful consideration.

Boating is a leisure that many people use to relax on hot summer days. Many use their water crafts to fish or to just have some fun. Regrettably, many will also take alcoholic beverages or other intoxicating substances as part of their vacationing. While drinking alcohol on a boat is not illegal in the State of California, operating a water vessel is.

Under the State of California, it is unlawful to operate a vessel under the influence of an intoxicating substance. California law states that a person’s blood alcohol limit for operating a boat is the same as operating a car – 0.08%. An individual who has been convicted of boating while on the influence of an intoxicating substance could be fined up to $1,000 or spend six months in prison. Moreover, consuming alcohol by the watercraft operator and/or passengers is a significant factor in about 25% of all deadly boat accidents in the State of California. Boating while under the influence has become the main factor in deadly recreational boating incidents. Boat operators are recommended to avoid consuming alcoholic beverages, which could affect the driver’s balance, judgment, reaction time, and vision.

When Boating Accidents Occur

Water vessel operators have a reasonable duty of care to those around them when they are driving. Although most vessel operators drive safely, some are careless and their negligence usually leads to the unnecessary injury of others.

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 hospitalized with serious injuries. The ski-jet operator was arrested for using the watercraft while intoxicated and is facing manslaughter charges.

Drinking and Boating Do Not Mix: Consequences Offenders Could Face

Operating a boat while under the influence is a crime under California law. Reiterating prior information, 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. By simply operating a water vessel on California waters, water vessel operators consent to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs if arrested by a law enforcement officer. The refusal to submit to testing may result in increased penalties under the law.

Boating while under the influence is a misdemeanor under California law; however, this could be enhanced to a felony charge under certain circumstances. A felony conviction in California will carry much harsher penalties that could affect the wrongdoer for many years.

Social Dilemmas Involving Boating in California

A significant part of the issues involving drinking and boating is that it is generally considered socially acceptable to drink while operating a boat. In fact, many vacationers will often plan to have alcoholic beverages while on the boat. Although some operators may initially reject the activity, having others on the vessel that engage in drinking can easily lead to the operator’s change in perception.

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, On the Water, It 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 involving a water vessel and the operator of the other boat was found to be intoxicated, even under the legal limit, it is likely that the operator 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 personal injury attorney in Fontana. Individuals who have been injured as a result of a negligent motorist have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the careless driver. By filing a lawsuit, injured victims could receive financial compensation for their grievances.

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 (909) 297-5001 for a free confidential case evaluation.

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