Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. It was listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths.

When the Coast Guard determines that an operator is impaired, the operator’s voyage may be terminated.  The vessel may be brought to a mooring by the Coast Guard or turned over to a competent and un-intoxicated person aboard the vessel.  Depending on the circumstances, the Coast Guard may arrest the operator, detain him until sober, or turn him over to state or local authorities.

“We want mariners to enjoy our nation’s waterways but to do it safely and responsibly.  The Coast Guard will continue to work closely with federal, state and local partners to ensure the safety of those on the water.”

Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination.  These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents afloat — for both passengers and boat operators.  Coast Guard data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, more than half the victims either capsized their boat or fell overboard.

Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land.  The marine environment — motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray — accelerates a drinker’s impairment.  These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.