Summer is in full swing, and many residents of North Carolina head out to the state’s lakes, rivers and coastlines with their boats in tow. Whether it is a ski boat, a pontoon boat or a simple rowboat, boating is a great way for North Carolina residents to relax and soak up the summer sun on the state’s beautiful waterways. But, did you know that, just like there are laws governing driving under the influence of alcohol, there are laws governing boating under the influence of alcohol?
According to North Carolina Statutes, section 75A-10, it is illegal for a person to operate a vessel on the state’s waters if they are under the influence of alcohol or are otherwise impaired. Just like driving under the influence, the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for boaters is 0.08 percent.
Boating under the influence is considered a class two misdemeanor. Those who are convicted of such charges may be obligated to pay a $250 fine. But, just like drunk driving charges, there may be defenses available to those who are accused of drunk boating. However, North Carolina law dictates that the legal entitlement to use a particular drug or consume alcohol is not considered a defense to charges of drunk boating.
Boating under the influence can lead to serious consequences. The heat of the sun may enhance the effects that alcohol has on a person, and in some situations boats cannot be stopped or slowed down as quickly as cars can be. However, no one should be charged with drunk boating simply for having a drink on their boat, particularly if their BAC level is below the legal limit.