New California Bill May Help Reduce Boating Accidents
The California Senate is reviewing a new bill, which if passed, will give authorities the power to suspend boaters’ licenses when they are caught operating a boat while intoxicated. According to a news report in the Daily Pilot, the bill introduced by Senator John Benoit, is looking to reauthorize the California Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend boating licenses if boaters are convicted of BUI or boating under the influence. The DMV had been treating BUIs like DUIs or driving under the influence since the 1990s, but an appellate court ruling last year deemed they do not have the authority to do that.
We at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys support this new bill 100 percent. Numerous people suffer catastrophic injuries or death each year in California especially in the spring and summer months because of boating accidents caused by negligent boaters operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Boating accidents are apparently on the rise and most of them involve recreational vessels such as personal watercraft. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2007 boating statistics, the number of boating-related deaths fell from 710 in 2006 to 685 in 2007. But the number of boating accidents increased from 4,967 to 5,191. Boating related injuries rose from 3,474 to 3,673 and damages increased from $43 million to $53 million during that period
The most common causes of boating accidents are alcohol use, careless or reckless operation, passenger behavior and excessive speed. Also according to this report, more than two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those victims 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket. A majority – about 86 percent of the operators who were killed or injured in boating accidents – had not received boating safety instruction.
According to the most recent report by the Department of Boating and Waterways, there were 55 boating accident fatalities in California waters in 2007, half of those in Southern California. Twenty California victims were found to be under the influence of alcohol. Also, nearly half of the alcohol-related fatalities in the water in 2007 were boat passengers.
Please understand that if you injure someone while operating a boat or a watercraft, then you will be held criminally and civilly responsible for the accident and any injuries or fatalities caused. Victims who have been injured by someone else’s negligence on the water should certainly consult with an experienced California boating accidents lawyer to find out more about their legal rights and options.
Alcohol and driving don’t mix and neither do alcohol and boating. Please do not operate your boat if you have been drinking. Have a wonderful and safe boating season!