This Monday is Labor Day, one of the last long weekends of the summer.  Many will be out enjoying the beautiful weather on a boat and we want to provide some important information about boating laws.

Operating a boat while intoxicated is a crime in New York.  Pursuant to New York State Navigation Law §49-A, if a person is found to be operating a boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, he/she may be charged with a misdemeanor, subject to imprisonment, fines, and the suspension of operator privileges.  Drinking alcohol on open water can quickly impair one’s balance, coordination, and judgment. Boats rock, sway, and have very little protection from the elements.  Coupled with the heat from the sun, and glare from the water, people on boats become tired much more quickly.  Consuming alcohol can affect inner ear balance too, making it impossible for a person who falls into the water to distinguish up from down.  Alcohol also creates a false sense of warming, which may prevent a person in cold water from getting out before hypothermia sets in.

Studies have shown the use of alcohol is responsible for about a third of all recreational boating fatalities. This high number is not just the result of operating a boat while intoxicated, but simply being on a boat while intoxicated.

Anyone born after May 1, 1996 is required to complete an approved course in order to operate a motor boat in New York.  It is very important to make sure your boat is properly equipped with enough life jackets to support each person on board, at least one fire extinguisher for a boat less than 26 feet in length, and visual distress equipment such as hand flares.  Not only will this equipment keep you safe, but it is all required by law.

If you will be boating this holiday weekend, take all proper safety precautions and make sure to wear your life jacket.  If you will be consuming alcohol on a boat this weekend, make sure you have a designated sober operator.

For more information on boating safety in NY, visit