Although most people automatically think of an automobile accident when someone mentions a fatality caused by a drunk driver, it may surprise you to learn that many boating accidents that result in a fatality also involve drugs or alcohol. According to the United States Guard, boating under the influence, or rather a BUI, actually increases the possibility of a fatal accident while boating by approximately 34 percent.

Interestingly, when a person is charged with a BUI, the legal penalties can be just as a stiff as they are for those who have chosen to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence. They can face stiff fines, forfeiture of their boating license or even jail time if they have caused a death while operating their boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In addition to facing criminal charges, an individual who causes a boating accident could find themselves in a civil lawsuit for wrongful death due to their negligence or recklessness. Even causing a drowning accident could make them legally liable for causing the drowning if they were operating their boat in a reckless manner because they were drunk. As an example, a loved one falls from his or her jet skis and is hit by a boat and drowns because the operator of the boat was drunk and not paying attention as he or she sped through a ski area.

Individuals who have been injured or lost a loved one due to a boating accident involving a BUI may have valuable legal rights and could be entitled to compensation for their injuries or loss.

Source: FindLaw, “Boating Under the Influence Basics,” accessed March. 26, 2015