There are many lakes in Georgia, and because of the usually fine weather, people can enjoy being out on the water for much of the year. There is an exhilaration, a feeling of freedom in taking a boat out on the lake. However, when boat operators have a few drinks, they put themselves and everyone around them at risk of an accident.
Federal law prohibits boating under the influence of alcohol and applies to the operators of every kind of vessel from canoes to cruise ships.
Understanding the effects of alcohol
Boat operators will probably become impaired by alcohol more quickly than if they were drinking on land. A combination of sun, wind, spray, engine noise and vibration causes fatigue and accelerates the effects of drinking. Physical coordination, judgment and reaction time decline more rapidly.
Alcohol can affect the operator in ways that are unique to the boating experience. For example, the impaired boater may have trouble distinguishing colors–red and green in particular–which could hamper his or her ability to discern port or starboard in another vessel. Drinking alcohol can also affect vision, especially night vision.
Added to these effects is the fact that many recreational boaters have less experience on the water than they do as drivers on land. In an emergency situation, they would not have the benefit of the reflexes developed from years of muscle memory behind the wheel of a vehicle, making them more likely to react incorrectly.
Boating accidents can leave people with injuries every bit as serious as those sustained in a motor vehicle collision. Anyone injured in an accident with a boater impaired by alcohol has the same right to seek compensation for medical costs as victims would in a case against an impaired driver on land.