Water sports are always popular during the spring and summer months, but any boat owner and operator understands there are many hazards associated with boating. Accident avoidance is crucial when on the water. It is important to prepare any water craft before launching by making a standard checklist of proper and legal gear for the vehicle. There also are some basic rules to follow that should be restrictive of, or limit, dangerous behavior. This includes the use of alcohol while occupying a boat, especially for the individual driving the boat. Alcohol intoxication can also be extremely dangerous for anyone on a boat due to the potential of falling overboard or getting into a fatal crash.  This Memorial Day weekend will be a busy one for getting out on lakes, rivers, etc., so pay special attention to these tips.
1. Double Check All Safety Gear
Always be aware of what safety equipment is required for the boat. Each occupant should have a life jacket, which should be worn at all times on smaller water craft. This also applies for a pontoon boat because of the flat boat deck. Significant wake from larger crafts can create problems for a pontoon as well as a fishing boat or ski boat. Safety equipment is still required on house boats or cabin cruisers, even though they are larger craft, and life jacket availability should still be determined by the number of individuals on the boat. Safety equipment should also include at least one fire extinguisher.

2. Do Not Overload the Boat
Technically, this is described as tonnage and applies across different boat sizes. Overloading a boat can result in instability and cause the craft to sit too low in the water. Both conditions can be problematic, so it is important to observe all capacity recommendations involving both people and supplies. Posting a float plan on board can also help in case the boat becomes capsized. Make sure everyone knows the procedure. 

3. Avoid Boating Under the Influence
Everyone knows that it’s illegal to drive a vehicle while drunk or be in a vehicle while drinking alcohol. These open container laws are slightly different for boating in many states though, including Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Passengers are allowed to consume alcohol on boats, however, the person driving the boat must be below the legal limit of .08 in Florida, or else they are at risk of being charged with a criminal offense. Knowing all of the alcohol safety laws for operating boats is important for having a good and safe time on the water, so it doesn’t hurt to consult a professional like Orlando DUI Lawyer, David Katz, especially if you have been charged with an alcohol related offense.
4. Maintain Safe Speeds and Distance
Sometimes, fun on the water can also include significant amounts of speed, such as when pulling skiers. The experienced boat operator will know when dangers lie ahead and will be constantly surveying the lake for other craft. The differential in craft size makes boating a dangerous activity in the wrong setting. It is important for all boats to be under control and making sure, well in advance of calamity, that all safety measures are in tact with regards to movement and collision avoidance. 

5. Secure All Anchors When Docking
Boats that are not docked properly can result in trouble for other boaters as well as anchored craft. This is as important when the boat is in a docking slip as it is in a temporary tie-up. Boats that are parked and not continually occupied can experience problems during inclement weather, especially if they are not anchored sufficiently. Additionally, always check the amount of fuel in the tank when left unattended, and remember that an empty tank is more vulnerable to explosion than a full tank. 

A fun escapade on the water can turn into a tragedy quickly if proper safety measures are not taken. Because of this potential, it is always important to ensure that the craft complies legally with all aspects of boating, including the amount of alcohol consumed by the occupants. This applies to passengers as well as operators. Boating under the influence can result in huge fines for all involved when the maritime authorities intervene.

Saam Banai is a freelance writer and editor and avid boater, offering tips for safe, fun boating excursions. Orlando DUI Lawyer, David Katz, is an experienced Florida attorney, eager to help in all DUI defense cases. One-time mistakes shouldn’t be devastating in the way that a DUI charge can be. Don’t assume that you’re up against something you can’t beat; experienced attorneys like Katz will go to bat for you, to protect your rights in any alcohol related boating incident.
Saam, I’d like to add, for those planning on being on the water, plan to carry along their cell phone, plenty of sunscreen, and wear a good pair of safety sunglasses that prevent UV damage.  pb


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