Summer is officially here. Most PSU students and local kids are enjoying their summer vacations. Parents and young adults also like to take advantage of the beautiful weather and long daylight hours to soak up the sun and spend time with friends. Raystown Lake and Foster Joseph Sayers Lake are likely to be bursting with activity for the next few months.
With those long Saturdays and Sundays spent out on speedboats, fishing boats and pontoon boats, there is always the temptation to indulge in a little too much drinking of alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, many people here in central Pennsylvania are still not aware that the state's drunk driving laws apply to boats just like they do to cars, trucks and other vehicles.
Mind your BAC when boating
Just like when driving a car, if your blood alcohol content is .08 or higher while driving a boat, you will likely be arrested for DUI. The penalties are the same for a conviction as well. If you refuse a breath or blood test after you have been brought in to the police station, you can face an automatic suspension of your boat-driving privileges just as you would a driver's license suspension.
Police are on the lookout for drunk boaters
Just like police who are always on the lookout for drunk drivers, waterways conservation officers know how to spot signs that a boat operator is drunk. They may look for signs such as weaving, violating speed limits and creating a wake in a no-wake zone. If you are standing while operating your boat, they may also observe if you look uneasy on your feet or if you are actively drinking while operating the boat.
The officer may also ask you to submit to a field sobriety test on shore, which will be just like for a drunk driving stop. As always, you have the right to refuse this test or a portable breath test. You also do not have to answer any questions.
With Independence Day and many hours of weekend fun on the horizon, consider naming a designated driver to operate the boat, just as you and your friends would when driving home from a bar or party. If you are stopped, remember to contact an experienced attorney who can protect your rights and help you find the best way to proceed.