Many Boaters Still Operate Under the Influence Despite Risks

Many drivers realize how dangerous it is to mix alcohol and an automobile. A lot of these would never think of driving under the influence and placing themselves, their passengers, and others on the road at risk. Yet when it comes to boating, these same risks are downplayed or entirely ignored so that boaters can have a good time.

Illinois has hundreds of rivers and lakes that allow boating. It is a popular pastime among Illinois residents as well as out-of-state tourists, flooding local towns with tourism dollars and a summer boon. A lot of these boaters see time on the water as an opportunity for a party off land where anything and everything goes. For a lot of boaters, this includes alcohol.

Driving a boat while intoxicated can be just as dangerous as driving a car drunk. The alcohol has the same effect on a person’s central nervous system regardless of what type of vehicle is being operated. Alcohol is a depressant that slows the body’s ability to process information and slows reaction time. This means that if a hazard suddenly appears, like a swimmer bobbing in the water, it takes a drunk boater longer to perceive the swimmer’s presence and longer to take evasive action, like stopping the boat. This can result in an innocent person being injured or killed just because a boater wanted to have a few drinks on the water.

Boating under the influence of alcohol does not get as much attention as drunk driving, and perhaps that is some of the reason that people seem less willing to acknowledge its dangers. At the end of the day, though, operating a boat under the influence of any intoxicating compound is a violation of Illinois law and can result in a citation or criminal charge. In some cases, a boater may even be charged with a felony and risk spending serious time in prison.

There were 209 people arrested for boating under the influence in 2012 in Illinois alone. Tragically, 19 people were killed on Illinois water in boating accidents last year, and about half of those deaths have been deemed alcohol-related. Drinking and boating is not only a crime but it is claiming the lives of innocent Illinois residents every year, leaving families irreparably broken and friendships destroyed. Traditionally, July 4th celebrations have been linked with an increase in drinking among boaters and officials are aware of this. Police will be on the water throughout the week looking for signs of impairment in an effort to prevent any accidents from occurring. The best way to avoid tragedy is to designate a sober driver for the boat if any drinking will be involved and to never let someone who has been drinking take control of any motorized vehicle while on the water.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you may have a claim for your losses. Call the Chicago boat accident injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today and let us provide you with a free, no obligation telephone consultation regarding your case. At Abels & Annes, you matter to us so we have an attorney standing by 24 hours a day to take your call at (312) 924-7575. Let us help you and your family after an accident.

Prior Blog Entries:

Chicago Motorcycle Lawyers Settle Case for $100,000, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 1, 2013.

Batavia Township Crash Leaves Bicyclist Dead, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 29, 2013.


Booze, boats continue deadly mix on Illinois lakes, by Ben Bradley, ABC 7 News, published July 1, 2013.


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