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What do you need to know about boating while intoxicated in MT?

Finally, the weather is warming up and boat enthusiasts all over Montana are anxious to get back on the water. While boating, waterskiing and fishing are great forms of recreation, there are many dangers when alcohol is involved. According to the American Boating Association, 610 people across the country lost their lives in boating accidents in 2014. The numbers of people killed in boat accidents are similarly high from year to year. Alcohol plays a large part in many of these accidents.

Boating isn’t the same as driving on the pavement, so how is it so dangerous when a boat operator is intoxicated? Mothers Against Drunk Driving points out that boating while intoxicated carries the same level of danger as driving a car while drunk. In fact, since boaters are not usually on the water every day, they have far fewer hours of boating experience than driving a motor vehicle on the ground. The environment surrounding boating, including glare from the sun, the boat’s motion and the outdoor wind and spray, can further impair a boater’s judgment, coordination and reaction time when intoxicated.

Therefore, boat operators and passengers face such hazards as the craft crashing into another boat, obstacle or shore; the boat capsizing; being thrown overboard without a life preserver; accidents while waterskiing and other dangers when alcohol is involved. In addition to the risk of seriously injuring or killing someone, intoxicated boaters face criminal alcohol penalties if they operate a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.

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