Boating under the Influence in Kentucky and Indiana
As the temperatures in Indiana and Kentucky continue to break records, many people are taking to local waterways to seek relief from the heat. Being on a boat can be a lot of fun and a good way to cool off, whether you are enjoying the breeze or swimming or skiing in the water. Taking a cool beverage along is always a good idea. Just make sure it is not an alcoholic beverage.
Indiana and Kentucky both have laws against public intoxication, which means consuming alcohol or using drugs in a public place. Other than lakes or ponds that are on private property and owned by an individual or group, the waterways in both states are public places, so it is against the law to drink alcoholic beverages while boating on most bodies of water in Indiana and Kentucky. If you are driving a boat in either state, you have automatically given consent to be tested for drugs or alcohol.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said that 178 boat operators were arrested in 2011 for boating while intoxicated (BWI), an increase of about 50 arrests over the previous year. They think it is not because there are more people drinking on the water, but that other boaters are reporting intoxicated drivers with more often, which keeps everyone on the water safer. In Indiana alone, there were 75 boating accidents, and it was determined that 63 of them were alcohol-related. Officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife believe about 50 percent of the boating fatalities in 2010 involved someone boating under the influence. They state that the “Sun, wind, noise, vibration and movement, which are common to the boating environment, when combined with alcohol intake, cause fatigue which impacts a boat operator's coordination, judgment and reaction time.”
In both states, boaters are considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol level is .08 or more, which is the same level that is used when determining if some is driving a car under the influence. Boaters in Indiana may also be arrested if the level is over .05 in certain situations. The penalties in both states get harsher for every boating under the influence arrest. A first offense in Indiana is a class C misdemeanor and the offender could lose his right to drive any type of vehicle for anywhere between 90 days and two years. A second offense adds potential fines and jail time to the loss of driving privileges. If an intoxicated boater kills or seriously injures someone else, it is considered a felony. Kentucky offenders can face fines for first and second offenses and potential jail time for a third offense.
As with operating a car under the influence, it shouldn’t be the penalty that keeps a person from driving a boat while intoxicated. It should be the desire to operate a boat safely so that you, your passengers, and those around you enjoy a safe day on the water. However, accidents can occur whether a driver is impaired or not. Kentucky and Indiana personal injury attorney Steve Frederick is experienced in helping victims of boating accidents with insurance claims and taking legal action if necessary.
Indiana conservation officers take to rivers, lakes to watch for drunken boaters; The Madison Courier; Seth Grundhoefer; July 3, 2012
Operation Dry Water Effort To Make Kentucky Waterways Safer For Families And Boaters; Kentucky.gov; Art Lander; June 16, 2011