Alcohol and Boating: Dispelling Common Misconceptions

If you’re trying to keep your boat insurance or possibly get some for your new boat, you’re going to have to know the rules of the road with alcohol and boating. The legal limit for a DUI doesn’t change just because you’re on the water. It’s still a 0.08 BAC.

Either way, it’s up to an officer’s discretion what constitutes a DUI when alcohol is involved. There have been cases in California where people got DUIs while operating a forklift. You can even get one on a horse. It’s definitely possible to get one on a boat, and they are no less dangerous.

Sure, we see boating as a fun way to drink on the water and let loose. But just like going out to a concert or a club somewhere on the mainland, there should always be someone who is able to drive without any problem.

That’s why knowing what’s legal and what isn’t is incredibly important in order to not only keep boaters out of trouble but to also keep boaters from getting hurt while on the waterway. This is alcohol and boating, along with a look at some crazy myths that can impact your safety via the Coast Guard Compass Blog.

MYTH: Drinking and boating isn’t as dangerous as drinking and driving.

BUIs exist and they happen just like any other DUI. Just like texting and driving or texting and boating, the whole act is incredibly dangerous. Think about how large of a vessel you are operating. Think about everything that can go down in the vast ocean.

One wrong turn and you could hit something like another boat, rocks, or you could end up with no gas at sea. The last thing anyone wants is to accidentally sink their boat and drive up their boat insurance even more.

MYTH: Boats are toys meant to party out on the water only.

Sure, many people use their boats for recreation. But that means they need to be taken care of too. There should always be more than one person familiar with boat driving that is able to take the boat back to where ever it needs to be. A boat full of drunk people is dangerous.

That’s why is best to combat that stereotype with boating responsibility and boat insurance. If you have enough money to own a boat, then you have enough money to be responsible about it. You don’t want to lose or ruin your boat over alcohol. That’s why it shouldn’t be considered a toy.

MYTH: Drinking and boating penalties are lenient and it’s hard to get caught.

It takes the average DUI driver about 80 passes before they actually get caught with what they’re doing. In reality, that seems like so much. But just like partying anywhere else, you have to be respectful on the waters. It’s possible to get in trouble for drinking on the water and the fines can vary. Expect fines, jail, loss of boating privileges and even loss of driving privileges if you get caught up boating under the influence. If you don’t have boat insurance, expect to pay for a lot more fines. Is this really something you want to risk?

MYTH: If it doesn’t have a motor, I can’t get in trouble for operating it.

The thing is, you can get a DUI on a skateboard, scooter or bicycle and none of those have motors. What about horses? Those certainly don’t have motors. It’s the simple fact that you’re operating something when you’re not in the right state of mind to be doing it, therefore it’s a risk.

MYTH: While you can get a BUI (boating equivalent of a DUI), you can’t get one for smoking marijuana.

As more and more states have started to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, this issue has inevitably arisen. We’re here to let you know: just as you can get a DUI for smoking marijuana, you can get a BUI for the same thing. You aren’t immune, so be careful if you do happen to partake.

MYTH: Going for a swim from an anchored boat after a few drinks is a good idea.

Having a few drinks actually puts you in a dangerous position if there’s a sudden wave you can’t shake off. It’s always good to wait a bit before jumping into the water after more than one drink, you want to make sure that you have that clarity in order to have awareness of your surroundings.

About Mariners Insurance

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (800) 992-4443 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.