Many people travel to Hawaii to enjoy the warm weather, sun and tropical setting. For a significant number of people, vacation also involves alcohol. You may enjoy cocktails on the beach, mimosas at the resort's brunch or cold beers after a long, active afternoon hike. There's nothing wrong with unwinding with a few drinks, or even a few too many, as long as you have someone sober to transport you places.
While you may understand the importance of sober drivers in motor vehicles, you may not realize how dangerous alcohol can be when mixed with boats. You may think that since there are no roads, it's less risky to get into a boat with a driver who's also drinking. That could be a mistake that results in serious injury or death instead of a good time.
Drinking and boating is against Hawaiian law
Just like driving a motor vehicle after a few drinks is illegal, operating a boat while legally drunk is also a crime. It is illegal to operate or be in physical control of a marine vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As with operating a motor vehicle, the limit to a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while boating is 0.08 percent.
If someone operating or controlling a boat shows a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, he or she could face criminal charges. In fact, there is a four hour window for testing after an alleged intoxicating boating incident. State law enforcement, as well as federal Department of Natural Resources agents may patrol beaches and boating areas for potential intoxicated operators.
Drunk boating puts everyone nearby at risk
While there may not be roads and signals, boating requires full use of your judgment and coordination. You may not realize how many risks there are until it's too late. Even if someone claims to be a professional who can handle a few drinks and still drive safely, your best option is to cancel the outing or look for another person to handle the boat.
Alcohol could make a boater slower to respond to sudden events, like a person falling off the boat or a personal watercraft crossing your path. It could also result in compromised decision-making and other risk factors that endanger everyone on the boat and near the boat.
You may have cause for a claim against a drunk boater
If the professional operating a motor boat you were on or the driver of a boat that struck or otherwise injured you was drunk, you need to consider your options. While that person may face criminal charges, you may also have the case for a personal injury lawsuit.
A drunk boater who causes injury or death could cost your family thousands of dollars. A lawsuit could be one way to recover those financial losses.