Washington State law enforcement officers were out in force over the last weekend for their annual “Operation Dry Water” campaign aimed at catching people who are boating under the influence. The purpose of the campaign is not just to arrest people who are found to be violating Washington State’s boating under the influence laws, but to educate people about the dangers of drinking while boating.
The Dangers of Boating While under the Influence
All states now have laws that make boating under the influence a crime, just as drinking and driving is a crime. Despite these laws, people fail to take the potential consequences of boating under the influence seriously. Many people are under the impression that drinking while boating is somehow less risky than drinking while driving. On the contrary, drinking while boating can lead to serious injuries, and even death.
According to the United States Coast Guard, alcohol is the most common contributor of fatal boating accidents. A shocking one in five boating fatalities can be blamed, at least in part, on alcohol. In the State of Washington alone, 30 people lost their lives as a result of boating accidents involving alcohol during a four-year period from 2007 through 2011, according to the Washington State Parks Boating Program.
While most people now accept that alcohol does indeed impair a motorist‘s ability to operate a vehicle at optimum capacity, many still believe that driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs does not create the same problems. “It’s important to realize that alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time,” says Mercer Island Police Sergeant Jim Robarge. “It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – all common stressors in the boating environment – intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and even some prescription medications.” In essence, mixing alcohol and driving a boat leads to the same problems as drinking and driving a vehicle on land, with a few added stressors to boot.
How To Protect Yourself from Being the Victim of A Boating Accident
With boating season in full swing in Washington State, anyone who plans to take advantage of the incredible boating opportunities the state has to offer must remain vigilant about boat safety. Take the risks of boating under the influence seriously. Do not drink if you plan to be driving, and don’t get into a boat with someone who has been drinking. If you are out on the water and you suspect that a fellow boater has been drinking, steer clear and notify the authorities. Discuss the potential dangers of drinking and boating with fellow boaters to help educate people about the risks involved.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured in A Washington State Boating Accident
If you have been injured in a Washington State boating accident, or you have lost a loved one as a result of a boating accident, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or your loss. Boating while under the influence is not only illegal – it is negligent as well. This means that the operator of a boat who was drinking at the time of an accident that caused injuries or death may be held financially responsible for the injuries or death that resulted from the accident.
If you have been the victim of a Yakima-area boating accident, you need the assistance of a boating accident attorney to help secure the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have suffered.
The Washington State accident attorneys at Mariano Morales Law can help. Contact the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.