For the most obvious of reasons, people chose to engage in the activity of boating in the summer months when the weather in Connecticut is the hottest and most humid. Getting out on the ocean on a boat, whether by sailboat or by motor boat is as popular a summer activity as any to enjoy the company of friends, relax or to just cool off. Like a summer weekend barbecue, a wedding or graduation reception, getting out on the boat is a reason to party in and of itself and nine times out of ten, the boat party involves alcohol. With no police in site and little restrictions, boat owners think that they are free to drink as they wish without consequences. That is simply not the case and the Coast Guard or State Police can stop and board your boat if they have reason to believe that the boat’s operator is intoxicated with drugs or alcohol. A boat owner that is suspected of drinking and boating can be charged with a BWI, boating while intoxicated and face charges and penalties similar to those that are imposed upon land-based driving under the influence of alcohol.
More importantly, those who operate a “partying boat” under the influence of alcohol risk injuring, killing or drowning their passengers. A larger boat can accommodate upwards of ten to twenty people at a time and the risks of a catastrophic accident are very real if the boat’s captain is drunk. A first-time drunk boat captain can receive up to 6 months in jail and a one-year boater’s license suspension. Second offenders can receive up to 2 years in jail and a $4000 fine. A third boating while intoxicated conviction can net the captain up to $8000 in fines and a life-changing 10-years in prison! That’s how serious boating while intoxicated is being taken by Connecticut authorities. In 2015 over 500 people died in the United States as a result of some 4000 boating accidents. Additionally, more than 3000 boaters were seriously injured.
At the law offices of Eagan, Donohue, Van Dyke & Falsey, LLP, our attorneys are aware of the catastrophic, life-altering injuries and even wrongful deaths that can result from a simple afternoon of partying on a friend’s boat. We are well aware that virtually every boat party includes the use of alcohol and the boat owner is responsible for the safety of its passengers. If you or a loved one have been injured, or if you have had a loved one killed in a boat accident, please immediately contact the Connecticut boat accident lawyers at Eagan, Donohue, Van Dyke & Falsey today for a free initial consultation.