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Drunk boating is a serious, if often overlooked, safety concern

Some people don't think of drunk boating as a real hazard. They think of boats as toys more than vehicles. They may never drink and drive in a car, but they think nothing of spending hours on the water with a case of beer. There's a party-style atmosphere that makes this seem less dire.

The reality, the United States Coast Guard warns, is that drunk boating is a serious issue. Alcohol can be linked back to a full 16 percent of the fatalities that take place in and around watercraft.

If anything, it can be more complicated to navigate a boat properly if you're over the legal limit. You probably do it less often, you don't have street signs and other markers to guide you, and there's far less control over a boat when turning or stopping than you'd have in a car.

One reason for this relaxed outlook about drunk boating may be that people mistakenly think that getting caught is uncommon and that the sentence won't be strict even if it happens. However, those who are caught operating a boat under the influence could:

-- Be fined.

-- Go to jail.

-- Have the boat impounded.

-- Lose their right to drive a boat in the future.

Perhaps you've always taken boating and drinking very seriously, and you'd never do it. Even so, the risk is always there on the water. As long as other people don't think it's a big deal, the fatalities will continue to mount. If you're injured in an accident caused by someone else, or if a loved one is killed, you need to know your rights.

Source: Coast Guard, "6 most common rumors about alcohol and boating," David J. Schuhlein, accessed April 25, 2017

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