Just like cars, boats are things that require serious commitment of attention. Back a number of years ago at Harborfest I watched as right after a beer cooler fell off the back of a boat all of the passengers rushed to the back of the boat to get a look. Any guesses what happened then? Last I saw of that boat the Coast Guard was towing it up river, about 2/3 full of water. I hope the beer was good, because it was expensive.

Here is what VA says about drinking while boating:
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.

Virginia law states that a person is considered to be “under the influence” if:

  • He or she is 21 years of age or older and has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, or is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to a degree which impairs his or her ability to operate safely.
  • He or she is under 21 years of age and has any measurable blood alcohol concentration (0.02% or higher), or is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to a degree which impairs his or her ability to operate safely.

According to Virginia law, those convicted of operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs will:

  • Receive a fine of up to $2,500
  • Be imprisoned for up to 12 months
  • Lose the privilege to operate a vessel for up to 12 months for a first conviction and for up to three years for a second and subsequent convictions
  • Be required to attend an Alcohol Safety Action Program
By operating a vessel on Virginia waters, you have consented to be tested for the presence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances if so requested by a peace officer. Any person refusing to submit to testing for the presence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances may lose his or her privilege to operate a vessel for up to 24 months.