Alcohol and boats are often a bad mix. Public education about drunk driving has helped to reduce problems on the road, but it hasn’t been as effective at discouraging problems on the water. Someone who causes an accident while boating under the influence of alcohol can be liable for civil damages as well as potential criminal penalties.
Drunk boating is a crime in Nevada
Under state law, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol within the state of Nevada is crime. NRS 400.410. The law applies to sailboats as well as powerboats. Whether a boat’s operator is under the influence of alcohol is measured in the same way as drunk driving: a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, measured within two hours of operating a boat. Boating under the influence is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and/or up to six months in jail.
The law provides steeper penalties for people who cause serious injuries or death to others while boating under the influence. A negligent act committed under the influence that causes death or injury is a felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine between $2000 and $5000. NRS 488.420(1). Courts will treat the presence on the boat of a child under the age of 15 as an aggravating factor in determining the severity of sentencing.
Victims of drunk-boating accidents should sue for damages
For someone who has been hurt by another person’s drunk boating the best course is often to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, and other costs. An injured plaintiff can recover against a drunk boater by showing that the boater operated the boat in a negligent or reckless manner, and the bad behavior caused the plaintiff’s injury. The fact that the operator of the boat was under the influence of alcohol can be powerful evidence of negligence or recklessness. This is true even if the boater has not been prosecuted for, or convicted of, a criminal offense.
That said, it can be easier to pursue a civil case if the drunk boater responsible for a civil plaintiff’s injuries has also been convicted in a criminal court. In Nevada a criminal conviction conclusive evidence of civil liability for the damages the defendant’s criminal activity caused. NRS 41.133. Although this rule simplifies one piece of the effort to recover compensation through a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff must still make a good legal case.
GGRM represents personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a boating accident and would like to understand your options for seeking recovery, we are here to help. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.