Insurance for boat enthusiasts will be affected for any boaters charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) or Boating While Intoxicated (BWI). Each state has a law against mixing alcohol with boating. Anyone boating in the United States should be aware that having a few drinks on the water can be just as serious in terms of consequences as drinking and driving a car – and breaking marine law can void your boat insurance coverage.
Statistics show that using alcohol or drugs greatly increases the number of boating injuries and fatalities. The US Coast Guard says fatalities increase by more than 30% when alcohol or drugs are involved. Insurance for boat related accidents can be problematic because boaters are not required to have coverage for liability. This can result in further complications for a victim that is injured by an uninsured boater.
There have been so many cases of serious drug- and alcohol-related accidents that state legislatures are getting tougher with their BUI and BWI laws in an effort to reduce the number of preventable accidents.
If you operate any watercraft while under the influence you run the risk of being charged with a BUI or BWI. State and federal law enforcement officers can pull over anyone they suspect is operating a boat, yacht or any type of watercraft under the influence. Often during the warmer summer months there are more boaters drinking or using narcotics so law officials will even set up checkpoints to screen boaters on the water.
Legal and other possible consequences for operating a boat while intoxicated include:
- Having a criminal record (not “just” a fine)
- Serving jail time, particularly if you severely injure or kill passengers or others on the water
- Losing your boating license, temporarily or permanently
- Being fined in civil cases for wrongful death or injury
- Having your eligibility for employment severely impacted in the case of a felony conviction
- Your driving license and automobile insurance rates negatively impacted by the BUI or BWI conviction
Anyone convicted of this crime will also find that their insurance rates for boating and driving coverage will increase, possibly quite dramatically do to the additional risk an insurer must accept.
In some situations the consequences may be even more severe. For example, if boaters:
- Have been previously convicted of BUI or BWI
- Have minors on board when caught
- Have given drugs or alcohol to minors
Reducing the number of injuries and fatal accidents caused by recreational and commercial boaters who operate their vessels while under the influence is becoming a high priority at both the state and federal levels.
Stay safe and always use a designated driver on the water the same as you would on land. Convictions impact insurance for boat operators and the consequences of intoxicated boating accidents are devastating for families and communities.
Want to know more about boat insurance coverage? The experts at Global Marine Insurance provide insurance for boat aficionados seeking superior service and policies customized to meet their unique circumstances.