July 6, 2012

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.”

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