With the official start to Maryland’s boating season just days away, the Maryland Natural Resources Police is encouraging Marylanders to take proper precautions to ensure waterway safety.
Last year, Maryland had 155 reportable boating accidents; 64 of those accidents caused injuries and six were fatal, resulting in a total seven deaths. These numbers are down from the previous year, when Maryland saw 144 reportable boating accidents, 65 injury accidents and 16 fatal accidents resulting in 20 deaths.
This year’s boating traffic is expected to be heavy now that many of the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted. And marine enforcement has dropped hints that they will be out in full force this season.
Boaters are recommended to not only follow safe boating practices, but continue following COVID-19 guidance for outdoor recreation. Officers have said they will take all precautions necessary to protect boaters and themselves against COVID-19 transmission.
Maryland Natural Resources Police, along with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Safe Boating Council, offer these safety tips for boating and social distancing during the 2021 season:
- Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- File a float plan with a family member or friend with the details of your trip in the event of an emergency.
- Carry all required boating safety equipment such as flares, a fire extinguisher, a horn or whistle, a first aid kit, throwable life jackets, line, etc.
- Check navigation lights prior to your departure.
- Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Avoid distracted boating and travel at safe speeds.
- Have more than one form of communication that works when wet.
- Download the U.S. Coast Guard app and the Maryland AccessDNR app for easy reference information on Maryland’s waterways.
The safety tip on not boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is well-taken. Maryland law prohibits operating or attempting to operate a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or 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). An Ocean City BUI/BWI attorney can provide more details.
Maryland law also states that when you operate a vessel in Maryland waters you have consented to random tests for drugs and alcohol by law enforcement officials so neither the United States Coast Guard nor the Maryland Natural Resources Police need a reason to board your boat to check for instances of BUIs and BWIs.
Refusing to submit to a chemical test can result in the loss of boating privileges for up to one year.
A Baltimore boating accident lawyer can help you if you are charged with a BUI or BWI. The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh boating accident attorney needs. An Ocean City boating accident lawyer can help if you have been charged with a BUI or a BWI. The consultation is free.
We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410-881-4022 or through the website for a free consultation.