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Boating & Alcohol
Boating & Alcohol
A Deadly Mix
Boating and alcohol is a deadly mix. Alcohol is involved in approximately 30 percent of boating fatalities in Oregon each year, 50-70 percent nationwide. A drug or alcohol impaired boat operator who is arrested for Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants faces the following:
  • could face fines of up to $6,250 and up to a year in jail
  • must complete a boating safety class
  • lose his or her boat operation priveleges for a period of time
  • have boat registrations suspended for up to three years

Oregon's BUII laws apply to motorized and non-motorized watercraft alike. Remember, in a raft, everyone with a paddle is an operator.
While BUII laws pertain to boat operators, a recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that an intoxicated passenger is as likely to die as an intoxicated operator. That's because most fatalities occur from falls overboard, not collissions as occurs in motor vehicles.

"Boat Safe, Boat Sober," and leave the alcohol at home.

The BUII Education Campaign
Boat for Sale!
The Oregon State Marine Board administers a campaign to educate Oregonians about the dangers of drinking and boating. This campaign uses print, television, radio and outdoor media to spread the message to "Boat Safe, Boat Sober." TV and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are produced each spring and distributed for airing during summer boating months. Outdoor billboards are posted in March/April and theater slides in major metropolitan areas are shown in April/May. In addition, educational and support materials are distributed to district attorneys to help them understand Oregon's BUII laws.
Agressive law enforcement supports this campaign. Marine Patrol officers receive specialized training each year and are among the most skilled in the nation at recognizing drug and alcohol impaired boaters. Any complaints about alcohol impaired boaters should be directed to Oregon State Police or your local County Sheriff.

General Facts About BUII
Did you know...
The US Coast Guard reports that alcohol is a major factor in approximately 50 to 70 percent of all recreational boating fatalities nationwide.
All 48 mainland states now have a legal per se statutory limit of 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration) to be considered "Under the Influence" of alcohol or other impairing substances. The US Coast Guard says a boat operator whose BAC exceeds that amount is 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than a boater with zero BAC.
Alcohol affects balance, vision, coordination and judgement. Environmental factors that come with boating - such as wind, sun, noise and motion - can magnify the effects of alchol and accelerate impairment.
Research shows that as little as four hours of exposure to sun, wind, glare, vibration and other motion on the water produces "boater's hypnosis," a kind of fatigue that slows reaction time almost as much as if a person were drunk. Ever spend several hours on a boat and feel like your balance was off when you come back to shore? Imagine also having alcohol in your system!
Most boaters think of collisions as the greatest threat when drinking on the water. However, according to BOAT/U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety, an estimated 75 percent of alcohol-related boating accidents and injuries do not involve collisions.
The greatest threats when drinking while boating include falls on board or overboard and missteps at the dock or when getting into a dinghy.
Alcohol makes it harder to control the gasping reflex that occurs involuntarily when the face or upper body is suddenly immersed in cold water. An intoxicated person is more likely to inhale water into the lungs when plunged suddenly into cold water.
For more information on BUII  read our Boating & Alcohol Brochure (PDF format )