Currently, in the state of Iowa if you hop in your car and go for a drive while drinking a beer, you are breaking the law. If you do the same thing in a boat, you are not.
Many are worried that this is a dangerous overlook that is contributing to a growing number of boating accidents each year.
So how come Iowa does not regulate alcohol in boats the same as a vehicle on the road? Well, Robert Garrison, chief of law enforcement for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, believes the matter needs to be addressed. “It is inconsistent that we allow open containers in boats, but not in highway vehicles.”
Over the years, the state has seen a number of incidents involving intoxicated boaters. One in particular occurred in 2005. Michael Bosnahan, a father of four, was killed after his boat was struck by an intoxicated driver of another boat. Four other passengers were in the boat with Bosnahan.
Last month, another fatal accident occurred when two boats crashed on Father’s Day. Both drivers were intoxicated, and one of the driver’s brother was killed as a result of the collision.
Many don’t understand why alcohol laws should be looser on the water. In fact, some argue that the sun, along with the constant moving of the waves contributes to, and even intensifies the dizziness and dehydration that already results from drinking alcohol.
Law makers have already taken some steps to regulate alcohol on boats. Just last year, the blood alcohol limit for boat operating was lowered to 0.08, the same limit for driving a car. Before the law change, you could actually be too drunk to drive a car, yet legally permitted to drive a boat.
Although the 0.08 limit was put into place, boaters are still permitted to have open containers and drink while operating the boat as long as they stay below the legal limit. But many are still concerned that the leniency makes the lakes and rivers, often filled with children and families swimming, unnecessarily dangerous. They feel that laws for driving cars and driving boats should be aligned.
According to The Des Moines Register, records show that between 2006 and 2011, there were 43 boating accidents in Iowa involving alcohol. The accidents resulted in 13 people dying, and 23 injured. It is also reported that around two thirds of all boating accidents in the United States are alcohol related.
So should alcohol laws for operating a boat be the same as driving a car?
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com