Drunken boating down from ’05, but still a problem on Great Lakes

Number of citations rises, Coast Guard says


CLEVELAND — Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs remains a serious problem on the Great Lakes, even though the number of pilots cited for intoxication is down from a decade ago, the U.S. Coast Guard says.

Agency personnel stationed on the five lakes had issued 89 citations for drunken boating this year through Aug. 13, said Lt. Davey Connor, spokesman for the Coast Guard’s 9th District office in Cleveland.

That total is up from 84 during the same period a year ago but still an improvement from 2005, when the number had reached 262 by the same date.

Alcohol use is a leading cause of fatal boating accidents, the Coast Guard says.

It’s not illegal to drink on the Great Lakes, but operators are expected to remain clear-headed. The legal threshold for impaired boating in most of the region’s eight states is a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent, the same as for driving an automobile.

But many people don’t realize that a boat’s rocking motion, engine vibration, and noise can intensify the effects of alcohol, Lieutenant Connor said.

A boat operator probably will become impaired faster than an automobile driver after consuming the same amount, he said.