If you are preparing to enjoy a vacation or weekend getaway in South Carolina, your plans may include spending some time on the water parasailing, taking a harbor cruise or perhaps reserving a pleasure boat for a day cruise and picnic.
Make sure that whoever operates your boat is experienced, competent and, equally important, sober.
BUI is illegal
Boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal anywhere in the nation, but it still happens. In fact, according to the United States Coast Guard, alcohol consumption is involved in approximately a third of all boating fatalities. South Carolina penalties for BUI are harsh and include fines as high as $6,000 and possible prison time of up to three years.
Worse on water
Compared to driving on land, the effects of alcohol on someone operating a boat are accelerated because of motion, engine noise and vibration, and even sun and wind. These issues increase fatigue, which, in a short period of time, adversely affects a person’s judgment, reflexes and ability to react to emergency situations. Vision will also be impaired, especially night vision. Someone operating a boat while drinking alcohol will have balance and coordination problems. In addition, since recreational boaters usually spend less time on the water than they do on land, many are not as experienced operating a boat as they are driving a car.
BUI and maritime law
Boating accidents and the injuries that result are covered under maritime law if they occur at sea or on navigable waterways such as rivers or lakes. For example, if you suffer a severe shoulder injury caused when the boat you were on collided with the dock in Charleston harbor, you can reach out to a maritime attorney for assistance. If the operator was boating while under the influence, your attorney will explain your options and pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf.