The state legislature amended the Michigan boating law recently.
With the ice all melted and Spring in the air, that means boating season is right around the corner. Given our state’s Great Lakes and vast inland lakes, Michigan is one of the most popular boating states in the nation.
In fact, according to the Coast Guard, Michigan is only behind California, Minnesota and Florida in the number of registered boaters.
Driving or just relaxing on a boat is one of life’s simple pleasures. However, with great pleasure comes great responsibility.
In 2009, The Coast Guard and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators launched Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol. Working with local law enforcement, the Coast Guard has worked diligently to educate boaters on alcohol safety.
The work has paid off, with alcohol related boating deaths dropping over the past 5 years both in Michigan and nationwide.
This past winter, the Michigan boating law changed to increase the penalties for drinking and driving while operating a boat. The changes are meant to match the current rules and penalties already in place for operating motor vehicles. The changes include:
- Reducing the maximum blood alcohol content level for those operators from .10 to .08, matching the current limit for automobiles.
- Prohibit individuals with illegal drugs in their system from operating a watercraft.
- Prohibit a person under 21 years old from operating a recreational vehicle or boat with any level of alcohol.
- Increase the penalties for violations of the law, including making it a felony for a third infraction and adding a misdemeanor violation for a person operating a motorboat while intoxicated with a person under the age of 16 as a passenger.
Sadly there were 92 boating accidents and 21 deaths on Michigan waterways in 2013. Of those, four injuries and one death were alcohol related.
Let’s hope the new law work to decrease those statistics and makes our lakes even safer this summer.
If you have a question about Michigan boat accidents, please contact our Michigan boat accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation.