It is officially SUMMER! With warmer weather and more time off, people and families are utilizing the lake and waterways that we are so blessed to have for outdoor recreation here in East Alabama and West Georgia. However, with more people on the water, the chance for boating accidents increases! It is important to keep yourself, your friends and family safe while boating.
Boating Under the Influence
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Boating Rules and Regulations “No person shall drive or be in actual physical control of a vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or any other marine transportation device while: there is 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the blood.” Nearly half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. The same rules apply while boating as while driving. You can be arrested for a “BUI” and the penalties are the same as DUI.
Make sure you have a designated driver.
Don’t Let Children Drive a Vessel
Operating a vessel or personal watercraft under the age of 12 is prohibited. This includes smaller watercraft, such as jet skis and small fishing boats. Furthermore, you must be 14 years old and have a vessel license (boating license) to operate a vessel or personal watercraft alone.
Take a Boating Course
Just like there are rules of the road, there are also rules of the water. States like Alabama require boaters to have a boating license (vessel license). It is important that you are familiar with the different buoys and navigational aids. Boating safety courses are usually offered locally, are inexpensive and usually take less than a day. BoatUS offers many boating safety courses online, including several for free. Click here.
Use Life Jackets.
Prior to your departure, fit and assign each person on your watercraft a life jacket. Remember, Children under 8 years of age must wear a properly secured U. S. Coast Guard-approved Personal Flotation Device at all times while onboard any boat, except when in an enclosed cabin. For more information on Coast Guard approved life jackets, or personal flotation devices, you can check out the U.S. Coast Guard’s website.
Use Common Sense
While common sense may seem to be a scarce commodity these days, it is important to use basic common sense while operating a water vessel. Operate at a safe speed at all times! Steer clear of larger vessels that may be harder to come to a stop. Be aware of your surroundings at all times! Water vessels can seemingly come out of nowhere. Stay focused on the water around you. Many times it may be hard to notice a swimmer, skier or tuber floating in the water waiting for their vessel to come back around and get them.
Stay Safe and Have Fun!
Remember, take a boating safety course, don’t drink alcohol or be under the influence of any potentially impairing substance and operate a vessel. Use life jackets appropriately, and last but not least, utilize common sense!
If you or a family member have been injured in a boating accident or charged with a boating crime, you will need a team of experienced local attorney’s, like our team at Walton Law Firm, P.C. to assist you with your potential case.
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