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Boating this weekend? Watch out for drunk drivers

Although it’s normal to watch out for drunk drivers on the roads, you may not be as familiar with the risk of being hit by a drunk boater. Drinking alcohol on the water isn’t always treated the same as it would be in a land vehicle, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous.

There are news reports every year of people who are involved in boating collisions as a result of alcohol or other issues. Boating while under the influence is a crime, so if you’re hit by someone who seems to be impaired, it’s important to mention that to the police.

Alcohol clouds judgment

Whether on land or in the water, alcohol clouds a person’s judgment and makes it more likely that they will make a mistake that could hurt themselves or others. Someone who is impaired may fail to keep a lookout ahead of them and ram into your vessel. They might speed beyond what’s safe or boat through an area where people are swimming.

Alcohol is also more likely to cause issues with balance, reduce a driver’s ability to react to changes around them (like the weather or waves) and impairs their judgement. All of these issues could lead to them colliding with your boat and causing serious injuries.

What should you do if you’re hit by a drunk boater?

The priority in that circumstance is to make sure that everyone is safe. Start by taking a count of those around you to make sure no one has gone overboard or is unaccounted for. Call 911 and let the operator know the lake or marina area where you’ve been injured. Emergency teams may need to come to you by boat if you cannot get to the shore or dock. If you can get to the shore safely, do so after getting the at-fault driver’s identifying information.

After this type of crash, you should seek medical attention. The at-fault driver may be able to be held responsible for any of the costs you have to cover for that care. Make your health a priority, and then take some time to review your legal rights.