Boating DUI Laws

Driving a boat – or personal watercraft or water-skis – while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is similar to driving a motor vehicle under alcohol or drugs (DUI).

As a result of their effects on the human body, these substances impair judgment, slow reaction time, and promote poor decision-making abilities. DUI laws aim to prevent accidents responsible for causing injuries and death on the land and the water. 

Alcohol consumption on a boat has two crucial effects that should be considered:

  • Alcohol and drugs may alter your perception of wind, waves, motion, or noise around you. 
  • People once believed alcohol prevents hypothermia by warming the skin, which is false. What happens is: By increasing blood flow to the skin’s surface, alcohol causes your body to lose heat more quickly, resulting in a warmer feeling. 

The Level of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Boating with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater (similar level of BAC as for motor vehicles) is prohibited. All suspected boaters must submit sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test determining their BAC. Also, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to operate a vessel with a BAC of more than .01%.



Take My Boat exam on a tablet