The problem is that many people feel that driving a boat while intoxicated is not as dangerous as driving a car intoxicated. That is a terrible misconception. In fact, Virginia law prohibits anyone from boating while intoxicated (BWI). That is, it is illegal to operate any boat, sailboat, or personal watercraft or to manipulate any water skis, sailboard, or similar device while intoxicated due to alcohol or any combination of alcohol, controlled substance, and/or drugs. Alcohol and drugs cause impaired balance, blurred vision, poor coordination, impaired judgment, and slower reaction times. Alcohol is a major contributor to boating accidents and fatalities.
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This is exactly what happened to a former Richmond Fire Department captain who has now been sentenced to four years in prison following his fatal boating accident. Steven W. Nixon of Montpelier pleaded guilty in Lancaster Circuit Court in February to aggravated involuntary manslaughter and several other felonies.
Nixon was at the helm when his boat struck a channel marker in the Rappahannock River last July. Twenty-five-year-old schoolteacher Amanda Brady was killed. Nixon and eight other passengers were injured, including four children.
This was a terrible accident and as a personal injury lawyer who has dealt with boating accidents in Hampton Roads, I know that there are not just careless boaters in the water but lots of big commercial vessels that are sharing the same waterways as small motor boats and personal watercraft like Jet Skis. Under these circumstances, collisions regularly occur. If you are involved in a boating accident that results in serious injury, you should consider contacting a personal injury lawyer about whether you have a claim against the insurance company for the boater who was at fault in causing your injury. Our firm welcomes free consultation on any maritime case.