BUI – Illegal under State and Federal Laws

Boating is surely so much more fun compared to driving any type of vehicle. It can also offer a type and level of relaxation that no car can provide. There is one area wherein both car and boat are equal, though, an area where a driver and a boat operator can be on the same level and be subjected to the same consequences – driving/operating their respective motor vehicle with more than 0.08% BAC level.

Boating under the influence is equally dangerous as drunk-driving, thus all states impose the 0.08% limit on boat operators. In fact, studies even show that operators and passengers of vessels who consume alcohol while on sea can be impaired much faster than a car driver. This is due to the type of environment vessel passengers are exposed to, like the boat’s motion and vibration, sea water spray or mist on their face and body, the wind, sun and engine noise. All these and alcohol (as well as drugs) can negatively affect a boater’s vision, judgment, coordination and balance.

Due to the dangers that may result from boating under the influence or BUI, states and the US Coast Guard strictly implement the BUI law, warning potential violators of the harsh penalties they will face in the event that they infringe the mandate. States render it illegal to operate any type of boat when under the influence of alcohol or drugs; in addition, the BUI law enforced by the United States Coast Guard is a federal law, so that it applies to all US ships and other types of boats (including canoes and rowboats), as well as to all foreign vessels sailing on U.S. territorial waters.

Operating a boat, which even a boat owner does not do often, requires many skills which can easily be impaired when alcohol and/or drug is consumed. These skills include: peripheral or night vision, focus, reaction time, especially in dangerous situations, cognitive abilities and the ability to correctly identify colors. Violators of the BUI law can suffer suspension or revocation of operator privileges, large fines and time in jail.