The Iowa Department of Natural Resources expects the state’s rivers and lakes to be busy with the start of the boating season this holiday weekend. It will be the second year of the law that matches the legal alcohol limit for boating to .08 to match the limit for driving on land. D.N.R. boating law administrator, Susan Stocker, says it was a good change.
“Previously you could have been checked by an officer and had a blood alcohol of .09 and you would not have been legally intoxicated on the boat. But how are you going to get your boat motor and trailer home? Because as soon as you..get in on the roadway, you are now legally intoxicated while on the road. So we think this was a great effort in order to mirror those so we could make both our waters and roadways safer,” Stocker says.
Just like the advice with a car, Stocker says if you drink, don’t drive a boat. “We’re certainly wanting sober designated drivers, and also what we’d like to tell everybody is how about leave the alcohol on shore so you can safely make it back to shore so you can enjoy the alcohol,” Stocker says.
Large boats are not the only water vehicles covered by the drunk boating law. “A personal watercraft is considered a motorboat, and so they would be covered under the boating while intoxicated law, as also are sailboats,” according to Stocker.
While it’s not illegal to drink alcohol and ride in a boat, Stocker says mixing alcohol and water can lead to some danger. She says there have been people who have jumped off of a boat in water that was too shallow and ended up being paralyzed.
Stocker says you should be careful about drinking and choosing to swim. “And then the other thing to certainly remember is that the affects of the wind and the wave and the sun off the water is going to intensify the affects of alcohol,” Stocker says. She says these are more reasons to leave the alcohol on shore and enjoy it when you get off the water.