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Drinking and Boating Don't Mix

The effects of being on a boat, including continual motion and vibration, sun, and engine noise, all collaborate to increase impairment more so than when a person is on land. The result is a sharply increased chance of boating accidents for both drivers and passengers.

The Coast Guard estimates that in over half the boating deaths involving alcohol, the victims fell overboard or capsized their boat. An intoxicated person in the water faces a double danger--being unaware of the onset of hypothermia and increased disorientation resulting from innner ear disturbances.

 

Contact Info

Administrative Offices
 

799 Main Street, Suite 110
Dubuque, IA 52001
Phone: (563) 582-3784
FAX:  (563) 582-4006      
Email: info@SASC-dbq.org

 

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Welcome to SASC

Behavioral Health Is Essential to Health.  Prevention Works.  People Recover. Treatment is Effective. 

Walk-in substance abuse evaluations available in the Dubuque office every Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.              

•Substance abuse evaluations available in the Manchester office by appointment only - call 563-927-5112.

 

Drinking and Boating Don't Mix

The effects of being on a boat, including continual motion and vibration, sun, and engine noise, all collaborate to increase impairment more so than when a person is on land. The result is a sharply increased chance of boating accidents for both drivers and passengers.

The Coast Guard estimates that in over half the boating deaths involving alcohol, the victims fell overboard or capsized their boat. An intoxicated person in the water faces a double danger - being unaware of the onset of hypothermia and increased disorientation resulting from inner ear disturbances.

Know the Facts About Boating and Drinking

Operating a Motorboat or Sailboat While Intoxicated:

In the state of Iowa, the blood alcohol level for boating while intoxicated (BWI) is .08 percent -- the same as a motor vehicle.

Boaters are reminded that alcohol reduces reaction time and ability to make quick, sound judgments in an emergency situation. Also, wind, sun, glare off the water, and water movement multiples the effects of alcohol.

Operating a motorboat or sailboat while under the influence of alcohol (.08 alcohol level or higher), a controlled substance, or other illegal chemical is unlawful. For the purpose of BWI, "operating a motorboat" means the motorboat is powered by a motor that is running. For the purposes of BWI, "operating a sailboat" means the sailboat is either powered by a motor that is running or has sails hoisted and is underway. Operators who are impaired may be required to take tests by an enforcement officer to determine their sobriety. Anyone refusing to test will be charged a penalty.

All navigable waters in the state of Iowa will be subject to the law, except farm ponds and privately owned lakes.

First Offense: A Serious Misdemeanor

A serious misdemeanor can result in the following punishments:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for at least 48 hours.
  • Assessment of a fine up to $1,000.
  • Loss of boat operating privileges for one year.
  • Assignment to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a course for drinking drivers.

Second Offense: An Aggravated Misdemeanor

An aggravated misdemeanor can result in the following punishments:

  • Imprisonment in county jail or community-based correctional facility for at least seven days.
  • Assessment of a $1,500 to $5,000 fine.
  • Loss of boat operating privileges for two years.
  • Assignment to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a course for drinking drivers.

Third Offense: A Class "D" Felony

A class "D" felony can result in the following punishments:

  • Imprisonment in the county jail for 30 days to one year.
  • Assessment of a $2,500 to $7,500 fine.
  • Loss of boating privileges for six years.
  • Assignment to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a course for drinking drivers.

Consequences of Refusing to Test

Refusing to submit to a breath or chemical test can result in a $500 fine and a one year suspension of boat operating privileges. If the offender, during the second offense, refuses to submit to a test, a $1,000 fine will be assigned plus suspension of boat operating privileges. Third-time offenders will receive a $2,000 fine and suspension of boat operating privileges.

Questions & Answers

Can I drink alcohol on a boat? Yes, consuming alcohol is allowed on the boat, but the operator is not to be under the influence.

Will a boating while intoxicated (BWI) affect my driver's license? No, a boating while intoxicated (BWI) offense will not be transferred to your automobile driving records.

How much alcohol can I consume to be considered legally drunk? That depends on the person. Be extra careful while drinking on a boat because sun, wind, and movement can quickly amplify the effects of alcohol and disorient the operator or passengers.

Information courtesy of the IOWA Department of Natural Resources

Don't Drink and Boat - Period

It's always best to plan to boat without alcohol. If you do drink, don't get in the boat while intoxicated--either behind the helm or as a passenger---always wait an hour per drink before operating the boat.