If you are arrested and convicted you will be punished. Just like in cases of DUI, if you are a repeat offender the subsequent punishment could be even more severe.
We issue this warning because summer is well under way. It is hot. Vacations have started. Many vacationers love the water. Some don’t need vacation as an excuse to hit the rivers, lakes and other recreational hot spots. They own their own boats and are frequent users of our area’s aqua-opportunities on weekends, days off and other special occasions.
Our waterways are congested and this compounds the potential for accidents. For this reason, boating enthusiasts are reminded of the natural hazards associated with the use of alcohol while operating motorized equipment. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is especially watchful this time of year for boating violations — especially those involving alcohol.
So far in 2010, TWRA has reported 69 boating accidents resulting in 38 injuries and nine fatalities. Alcohol or drug use has been involved in 19 percent of the accidents and four of the boating deaths have been alcohol-related. Through June 28, TWRA officers had made 85 BUI arrests across the state.
For those still not convinced about the hazards of boating and drinking, TWRA reported over the July Fourth holiday in 2009, the state suffered one boating-related fatality. Six total accidents involving injuries were reported and nine caused property damage. TWRA boating officers made 17 BUI arrests during the holiday weekend.
Water recreation users who insist on consuming alcohol should remember this TWRA warning. The effects of alcohol can be increased when on the water. In a boat, alcohol’s impairments are compounded because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun. Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle on the road.
Regardless of one’s choice whether to use alcohol while on the water, another important TWRA safety tip is to wear a life jacket. This is the most effective way to protect boaters and reduce the number of drownings in boating accidents. Eighty percent of those who have drowned in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket, TWRA reported.
Boating is a family recreation when adult drivers are frequently carrying young passengers, most often their children, their children’s friends and other loved ones. It seems to us carrying this precious cargo is reason enough to refrain from drinking while boating.
Look at it this way.
Do you regularly drink while driving your motor vehicle? Certainly, we hope your answer is “no.” If you answer “yes,” then you are endangering your own life on the road and on water, as well as the lives of your passengers and sadly the lives of other motorists who are sharing the road or boaters who are sharing the same recreational pastime.
Please consider others, and their loved ones, when making your decisions.
It is easy enough to bear the false belief, “That won’t happen to me.”
Until it does.
And then it’s too late.