Missouri is home to several manmade lakes and waterways throughout the state which are popular spots for boating, fishing and other water sport activities. One of the biggest, and busiest, is the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. This summer, many families will enjoy the great outdoors on Missouri’s waterways with loved ones and friends. However, with this abundance of water options comes a higher risk for criminal charges, boating accidents and injuries.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports that there were 17 fatalities and 70 injuries on Missouri’s waterways in 2015. In 2014, there were a total of 29 drownings and 15 boating fatalities, compared to 38 drownings and 17 boating fatalities in 2013. Almost half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. A hot day on the water combined with the consumption of alcohol can be a deadly mix.
In Missouri, being charged with Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) can carry severe consequences and are very similar to DWI charges. The legal blood alcohol content limit when operating a boat is .08, the same legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in Missouri. A single BWI charge could result in a misdemeanor conviction on your record. Any subsequent charges could potentially result in a felony conviction.
While enjoying Missouri’s beautiful waterways this summer, please be safe. Here are some basic safety tips before heading out on the water:
- Check the forecast. Boating during inclement weather can be very dangerous.
- Inspect the boat/personal watercraft for necessary supplies such as lifejackets and distress signals.
- Operate cautiously. Be aware of your surroundings, staying away from larger boats, swimmers and buoys. Slow down if you find yourself encountering potential obstacles.
- Do not boat while intoxicated and always have someone sober designate to operate a boat.
- If you have had too much to drink but absolutely need to get somewhere by boat, consider potential options like Anchor at the Lake of the Ozarks for a ride home.
- Take a boating safety course.
If you receive a BWI and/or are injured as a result of boating this summer, contact Chris today for a free consultation and case review.