Boat Accidents & Injuries

Licensed attorney since 2007. Licensed to practice law in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Washington D.C.

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Boat Accidents & Injuries

Alabama Boat Accident & Injury Lawyers

Boating in Alabama – What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

With spring weather rolling in, boating and water sports accidents are already on the rise. The following information will help you and your loved ones stay safe while on the water.

Boating-Related Accidents and Injuries

Boating accidents are on the rise nationally and in the State of Alabama. For example, boating fatalities are up 25% vs. pre-Pandemic.  Collisions between boats continue to be the primary cause of boating accidents. Alcohol continues to be the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Nearly 90% of boating accident drownings resulted from failure to wear a life jacket. These statistics demonstrate that most boating accidents are preventable, and injuries can be minimized, if boating laws are followed.

Alabama Boating Laws

  • You must be 14 years of age or older and possess a vessel license to operate a boat or personal watercraft alone.
  • All vessels and personal watercraft must be registered with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).
  • All vessels must be equipped with proper navigation lighting and used between sunrise and sunset and during periods of restricted visibility (fog, rain, etc.)
  • Everyone on board a vessel must have a life jacket available to them.
  • All children under 8 must wear a life jacket while on a vessel.
  • Anyone being towed (e.g., skiing, tubing, etc.) must wear a life jacket.
  • Vessel operators must “keep right” when passing head on.
  • Overtaking vessels may pass on either side but must grant the right of way to the vessel being overtaken.
  • No person shall maneuver a vessel or PWC in a manner which endangers life, limb, or property (e.g., weaving through traffic, following too close, jumping another vessel’s wake, steering towards another vessel so as to “spray” it.

Alabama BUI Laws

Just like driving under the influence (DUI), boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal in Alabama. That is, Alabama law prohibits the operation of any boat, personal watercraft (i.e., jet ski), water skis, or similar device while intoxicated due to alcohol or drugs. Intoxication may be demonstrated through field sobriety, breathalyzer, and/or blood alcohol concentration testing (.08% or greater).

First time offenders will be subject to a fine up to $2,100 and/or sentenced to one (1) year in jail, plus suspension of boating license. Penalties increase with each subsequent arrest and conviction. Refusal to submit to testing will result in the same penalties for those operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on Alabama state highways.

A BUI offender who causes physical injury to another can be convicted of a Class B felony for assault, an offense that carries up to 20 year prison sentence and $30,000 in fines.  BUI offenders causing death are subject to “negligent homicide” charges.

Possessing Alcohol on a Boat in Alabama

Most lakes in Alabama are “dry”—i.e., alcohol is not permitted on a boat, period. For example, while marinas on Smith Lake are permitted to serve alcohol, no alcohol is allowed on the waters of Smith Lake. If you’re caught, law enforcement will confiscate all alcoholic beverages on board and likely issue a fine (up to $100 per beverage). The laws vary on other bodies of water, such as Guntersville and parts of the Tennessee River, depending on your location.

Insurance Requirements

Sadly, Alabama does not require boat operators to carry liability insurance. Of course, it is highly recommended that boaters purchase liability insurance and under / uninsured insurance to protect themselves in the event of an accident or injury involving operation of a boat.

What to Do if You’re Involved in a Boating Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact Bodewell Legal Group’s Injury Attorneys immediately for a free consultation.

Contact A Birmingham Boat Accident Injury Lawyer

When you’re facing the aftermath of an accident or injury, it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being and recovery. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact Bodewell Injury Group’s attorneys immediately for a free consultation.

Contact a qualified Birmingham personal injury attorney today at Bodewell Injury Group for help!


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