The relative increase in space that boaters in Manhattan have on the water as opposed to what they find on the road when driving may contribute to a false sense of security. Not having to worry about avoiding other vehicles may prompt some to engage in reckless behavior that they otherwise would not. Excessive drinking or using controlled substances immediately before or while boating are two such examples. While many may not realize it, boating while impaired or under the influence can be just as dangerous as being in the same state while driving, and may easily produce devastating consequences.
A recent case involving a family in Pennsylvania perfectly illustrates this point. The father allegedly smoked marijuana before heading out on to a local river with his fiancee and their daughter. Authorities say his destination was a campground up river, yet due to his unfamiliarity with the area, he did not know that there was a dam between the party and their destination. Their boat ended up striking the dam, and all three were thrown overboard. He was able to swim to shore, yet his fiancee and their daughter drowned. He is now facing multiple criminal charges stemming from the accident, including homicide by watercraft while under the influence.
Boat owners and captains assume the responsibility of ensuring that their passengers remain safe the moment they step onto their vessels. Reckless actions may show a blatant disregard for that responsibility, which could then open the door to both criminal penalties and liability charges. Those hoping to initiate the latter may wish to first secure the services of an experienced attorney.