While snow is in our forecast, spring is here, and boaters will soon be taking on what has become an annual ritual...going to the lake. Boating on Colorado lakes and rivers is part of what makes our region unique.
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial opening of boating season, and law enforcement agencies are gearing up to keep waterways safe. Much like the "Heat is On" programs directed at keeping drunk drivers off Colorado roads, it is expected that sheriff's departments and park officials will be actively looking for drunk boaters.
As such, boaters should be especially cautious about using alcohol while on the water. Whether you are riding a jet ski or operating a power boat, the same rules that govern vehicular traffic apply to the water. Essentially, a person who is caught operating watercraft while having a blood alcohol content of .08 or over can be charged with a crime.
Misdemeanor boating while intoxicated (BWI) carries the possibility of jail time, along with a host of fines and penalties. Additionally, BWI offenders face administrative penalties that can affect their driver's license.
More importantly, drunk boating has been linked to a host of accidents on the water. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol plays a part in at least 30 percent of boating accidents. Unlike land-based auto accidents, boating accidents carry the distinct risk of drownings.
Because of this, law enforcement agencies take boating while intoxicated very seriously. Anyone charged with this crime should obtain legal counsel to learn about their rights and options.
Source: BoatingSafety.org, Boating Safety - It could mean your life