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Michigan lawmakers may tighten drunk boating laws

Although you might not be able to tell it from the weather, it is spring. Soon, hopefully, it will be nice enough for people to head out onto Michigan's lakes for swimming, boating and water sports. Many Michigan residents mix some alcohol into those relaxing, long summer weekends, but it is very important that people remember to drink responsibly. Thousands of people are injured or killed in boating accidents every year in Michigan, and many of these accidents are due to alcohol.

Under current law, it is legal to operate a boat with up to a .10 blood alcohol content. This is a bit higher than the .08 blood alcohol content limit for driving a motor vehicle, and the same as the limit allowed for snowmobiling. However, this could change by the time some people hit the lakes. Legislation was recently introduced in the state House that would hold boaters and snowmobilers to the same drunk driving requirements as motor vehicle drivers.

The future of that legislation remains to be seen. Whether the limit remains at .10 or is lowered to .08, it is very important for operators of boats to watch their drinking and be responsible.

Boating accidents tend to lead to catastrophic injuries or death because of their nature--being on the water and further away from emergency responders. When boaters are negligent and end up in an accident that injures another, they may be held liable for medical and rehabilitation bills, long-term care, lost wages, and more.

When summer finally arrives, everyone should do their part to ensure that we can all enjoy the season safely.

Source: CBS Detroit, "Mich. Lawmakers Seek To Drop BAC Limit For Boaters, Snowmobilers," March 31, 2013

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