Does drinking while on a boat make you feel drunker?

Huh. News to us. So we looked into it.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

We were working on a story about Minnesota officials' crackdown this weekend on drunken boating, when we saw something on the U.S. Coast Guard's website that caught our attention.

The Coast Guard says being on a boat "accelerates a drinker's impairment." So you actually feel drunker if you drink on a boat than if you drink on land.

Huh. News to us. So we looked into it.

Is that actually the case?

Lisa Dugan with the Minnesota DNR agrees.

She told GoMN the "stressors" that are common while boating – the sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – can "intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications."

To be clear, drinking on a boat doesn't actually raise your BAC (blood-alcohol content) more than drinking on land.

But it can make you feel drunker, which can affect your judgement and reaction time.

Plus, the Coast Guard says alcohol can be more dangerous to boaters than car drivers. That's because boat operators are "often less experienced and less confident on the water than on the highway." Recreational boaters don't have the benefit of driving a boat daily, like drivers do with a car.

More importantly – be smart this weekend

It's the weekend heading into 4th of July and you're probably planning to go out on the lake, bringing a few beers on the boat with you.

But state officials want to remind people that if you plan on drinking, have someone sober as the captain. That's because drinking while boating can be just – if not more – dangerous than driving while drunk, as we explained above.

They're cracking down on drunken boating

Since this year has already been the most deadly year for boating since 2005 (nine boating fatalities have been reported), state officials are hoping it doesn't get worse.

That's why they're increasing patrols on Minnesota waters for the holiday weekend, especially Lake Minnetonka, which sees the most BWI arrests every year, the DNR says. Last year, there were 109 BWIs in Minnesota – 60 were in Hennepin County, where Lake Minnetonka is located. That was up from 2015, when there were 81 BWIs statewide.

This weekend's crackdown, which runs from June 30-July 2, is part of Operation Dry Water, a national campaign that aims to deter drinking and boating.

The legal alcohol limit for boating is the same as for driving a car – 0.08 – and if you're caught boating while drunk, you could face a hefty fee, possible jail time, or lose your boating license for 90 days, according to the DNR.

Alcohol is a main factor in many boating deaths

Booze is the leading known contributing factor in recreational boating deaths and is one of the most common factors in boating accidents nationally, U.S. Coast Guard statistics show.

"When an operator is boating under the influence, it's often not the impaired operator, but their loved ones, passengers and other waterway users who suffer," Michael Baron, recreational boating and water safety specialist for the Ninth Coast Guard District, says in a statement.

Last year, the boat driver being drunk led to 282 boating accidents, 87 deaths and 264 injuries nationwide, the Coast Guard says.

In Minnesota, alcohol was a factor in nine of the 17 fatal boating accidents (that's 53 percent) in 2016, the according to the DNR. In 2015, there were 78 BWI arrests made in Minnesota, the DNR said last year.

For more information on the dangers of boating while drunk, click here. The Minnesota DNR also has tips to stay safe when you're on the water.

Next Up

ballot voting vote

Appeals court changes rules for MN absentee ballots received after Election Day

Pending a further challenge, votes received after 8 p.m. on Election Day may not be counted.

Donald Trump

Confusion over where Trump campaign rally will be held Friday

It sounds like it'll be held at the airport in Rochester.

Screen Shot 2020-10-29 at 3.19.05 PM

This video of the Lowry Hill Tunnel walls being cleaned is oddly satisfying

The tunnel will be closed overnight Thursday for cleaning.

gray wolf

Gray wolf removed from the endangered species list

A decision on whether they can be hunted in Minnesota will come later.

covid saliva test

Minnesota opening its 7th saliva testing location in St. Paul

The tests are free and open to anyone regardless of if they have symptoms.

pete stauber - qunn nystrom CD8

Election 2020 preview: Minnesota's 8th Congressional District

It's a race between incumbent Rep. Pete Stauber and Democratic challenger Quinn Nystrom.

fire, flames

Lives saved as passerby, city workers rescue from 3 from Golden Valley fire

The Golden Valley Fire Department responded to the fire Wednesday morning.

Caribou Coffee Holiday 2020

Caribou Coffee rolls out holiday cups, menu early

The holiday season is underway at some Twin Cities stores, with a nationwide rollout planned for Nov. 5.

Malik Beasley

Charges: Timberwolves' Beasley pointed assault rifle at family on a home tour

The family was on the Parade of Homes tour when Beasley allegedly pointed the gun at them, telling them to get off his property.

Related

We asked a Mayo Clinic doctor why you feel drunker on a boat

Research shows it takes one-third the amount of booze to feel drunk on water compared to on land.

We asked a Mayo Clinic doctor why you feel drunker on a boat

Research shows it takes one-third the amount of booze to feel drunk on water compared to on land.

How to stay safe while cooling off in the water this weekend

At least three people are believed to have drowned in the past week – so stay safe while you're in the water.

How to stay safe while cooling off in the water this weekend

At least three people are believed to have drowned in the past week – so stay safe while you're in the water.

Boat operators on Minnetonka can now get in trouble if underage drinkers are onboard

If people under 21 are drinking on your boat, you could get a ticket.

If you have a boat, this new law may affect you

The law is named after 7-year-old Sophia Baechler, who died while boating.