South Carolina Urges Boater Safety For Independence Day Weekend | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The Forth of July is the single biggest day for alcohol consumption each year in the United States – and good summer weather means that many South Carolina residents will head to the lakes and the ocean this Independence Day in order to celebrate our freedom. However, as many South Carolina police officers will tell you, drinking and water recreation are a deadly mix that can lead to boating injuries and boating accidents.

This Fourth of July, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will be patrolling the state’s lakes in full force – checking boats for required safety equipment and doing sobriety checks on boat drivers.

According to DNR representative Mike Willis, a first-time boating under the influence (BUI) charge carries with it a mandatory 48-hour jail stay, a $465 fine plus loss of boating privileges for six month, and mandatory offender-paid drug and alcohol rehabilitation. If a drunk boater is found at fault for an accident that kills or injures someone else, they could face 15 years in prison.  

One issue about boating accidents caused by drunken boaters is that drinking while boating can cause boat operators to become more intoxicated than under normal circumstances. The brightness and heat from the sun paired with vibrations from the boat, dehydration, and what is called “boaters’ fatigue” can all contribute to recreational boaters becoming drunker faster.

Another issue that complicates Independence Day weekend boating accidents is simply the fact that lakes can become crowded – and a distracted boat operator could risk running into another vessel – especially a smaller one. This is just another reason to designate an attentive, sober driver to operate your boat this weekend.