State law prohibits
boating while impaired

Published 6:13 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Special to the Daily News

I am writing this in response to numerous questions and comments I have received concerning the operation of boats here on the Pamlico River.
Most of the questions concerned the consumption of alcohol while operating a boat. North Carolina law prohibits the operation of any vessel on the waters of this state while under the influence of an impairing substance, or after having consumed enough alcohol that the person has an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.
These impairing substances include not only the standard “drugs” of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, etc., but can also include prescription medications. Furthermore, under state law a breath reading is not required to prove a person’s impairment.
On the other hand, I am not aware of any law that prohibits the mere possession or consumption of alcohol while boating, as long as the person is 21 years of age.
This applies to both the operator and any passengers. Contrast that with motor vehicles, where state law prohibits any open containers of alcohol by the operator and passengers.
The privilege of operating a motor vehicle on our highways or a vessel on our waters carries great responsibility. Our laws are designed to protect you.
Unfortunately, when one runs afoul of these laws, a tragedy may occur. Enforcement of our laws will hopefully reduce the number of those tragedies.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.