Maryland Boating Accidents in 2018 Already At New Highs

Maryland Boating Accidents in 2018 Already At New Highs

Memorial Day marks the start of the boating season in Maryland. With access to the Chesapeake Bay and nearby rivers and streams, Maryland residents have their choice of water activities. But, with four people dead in boating accidents over the past 16 days, state and federal officials have called 2018 the deadliest start to the boating season in the past six years.

A spokesman for Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources said the state has already recorded nearly half of the deaths it saw in 2017. Nine people died last year in boat-related mishaps. Officials are worried as many boaters have yet to cast off for the first time this year.

It is possible to obtain a recovery in civil court or from an insurance company for the money needed for injuries, and, in some instances, the death of a loved one. A Baltimore or Maryland boating accident lawyer can evaluate your case.

Safety Tips for Maryland Boaters

There are several ways to make boating safer. The Coast Guard has said that all of those who died so far this year were not wearing life jackets. In fact, officials say, in one instance, a personal flotation device saved the life of a 44-year-old Shady Side man who flipped his kayak on the West River. The man told responders he was in the water for about three hours before a sailboat noticed him late one evening.

Sea captains should also make sure to have a VHF radio so, if there is an emergency, they can broadcast it on Channel 16, which Coast Guard officials monitor around the clock.

Alcohol and Maryland Boating Accidents

Alcohol use has been implicated as one of the most common causes of boating accidents along with operator inattention and operator inexperience.

Maryland law forbids operating a watercraft while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If marine law enforcement finds that a boat operator is operating under the influence of alcohol, the boat operator can be charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and Boating While Intoxicated (BWI).

Just as the operators of motor vehicles can be asked to take a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content, so can the operators of watercraft if they are suspected of being intoxicated.

A blood test that indicates a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater will result in a BUI charge.

A blood test that indicates a blood alcohol concentration of .07% to .08% generally results in a BWI charge.

Refusing to submit to a chemical test can result in the loss of boating privileges for up to one year; however, driver’s license and driving privileges are not affected.

Boaters convicted of operating water craft in Maryland under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. A first-offense Maryland BUI is a misdemeanor.

A BWI conviction in Maryland is a misdemeanor and convicted boaters face a maximum of two months in jail and $500 in fines for a first offense.

For a detailed discussion of Maryland boating BUIs/BWIs, see our blog.

A Baltimore or Maryland boating accident lawyer can help you if you are charged with a BUI or BWI or if you or a loved one has been involved in a boating accident. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick can help. The consultation is free. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.