It is extremely dangerous to get behind the wheel of any vehicle while you’re intoxicated, boats included. Since the spring is here and summer is just around the corner, you may be considering heading out onto the water soon. If so, remember that a BWI could be damaging to you in the same way as a DUI.
Virginia prohibits anyone from driving a boat while intoxicated. It’s illegal to use any kind of boat while intoxicated including sailboats, personal watercraft, water skis and others. A BWI isn’t just charged for alcohol use, either; cases involving drugs may result in a BWI as well.
You’ll be considered to be under the influence if you are 21 years of age or older with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater. If you appear intoxicated or impaired due to drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, then you may also face charges.
If you are under the age of 21 and are stopped, realize that you may not have a BAC higher than .02 percent. You may not be under the influence or impaired by any substance that makes it unsafe for you to operate the boat safely.
While many people believe that boating while intoxicated isn’t the same as driving a vehicle on dry land, it still has its own risks. If you fall in the water or pass out, you could drown. Crashing is a possibility, as is becoming dehydrated and suffering a medical emergency. It’s best to avoid drinking and boating whenever you can, so you can stay safe on the water.
Source: Boat Virginia Course, “Boating While Intoxicated (BWI),” accessed May 10, 2018