BOATsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Responsible Boat Operation

Boating and Alcohol and/or Drug Use

Unfortunately, boating under the influence (BUI) is a significant issue on American waterways. In fact, boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a factor in approximately 1/3 of the boating-related accidents and deaths in the U.S.

Laws and Regulations for Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Operating a boat anywhere in the U.S. while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal and extremely dangerous. Boat operators who have a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) in excess of 0.08, or 0.10 in some states, are subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 and a criminal penalty of up to $5,000. Remember, this fine is applicable to all boat operators—from the single fisherman to the captain of a ship.

If a boat operator under the influence of drugs or alcohol kills or seriously harms another person on the water, the penalty can be up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.

Note: Some states have additional penalties for boating under the influence and the maximum BAC level will vary depending on the state in which you are boating.


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