The Dangers of Boating Under the Influence

As the boating season kicks off, boat operators must prioritize safety and sobriety on the water. Alex Otte, a survivor of a drunk boating accident, knows firsthand the devastating consequences of boating under the influence (BUI). When Otte was just 13 years old, a 17-foot boat traveling over 60 miles an hour collided with her jet ski on Herrington Lake in Kentucky. The boat driver was drunk, and the crash left Otte with life-altering injuries.

5 Key Points

  • Research shows that a .035 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in water is as impaired as a .08 BAC on land due to environmental stressors.
  • Alex Otte sustained severe injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, shattered jaw, broken neck and collarbone, lacerated liver, shattered femurs, and the loss of her right leg below the knee.
  • The crash resulted in a coma, multiple surgeries, weeks in the ICU, and months of recovery for Otte.
  • Otte has dedicated her life to studying the effects of boating while under the influence and advocating for people to stop.
  • Operating a boat while under the influence can result in a BWI, which carries similar penalties to a DUI, including possible driver’s license suspension.

The Impact of a Boating Accident

The drunk boating crash that Alex Otte experienced when she was just 13 years old has had a profound and lasting impact on her life. The injuries she sustained were extensive and required numerous surgeries and a lengthy recovery process. Otte’s right leg was amputated below the knee, and she had to undergo at least one surgery per year on her jaw for the first 11 years after the accident. The physical and emotional toll of the crash has been immense, with Otte acknowledging that her recovery will never truly end.

Advocating for Change

In the wake of her traumatic experience, Alex Otte has become a passionate advocate for boating safety and sobriety. She began volunteering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Kentucky within a year of her crash. She spent two years researching the parallels between boating and driving under the influence. Otte believes that society has a more relaxed attitude towards drinking while operating a boat compared to drinking and driving, which contributes to the prevalence of boating accidents involving alcohol.

Promoting Safe Boating Practices

As the Memorial Day weekend approaches and more people take to the water, Alex Otte stresses the importance of having a sober, non-drinking driver when operating a boat. She emphasizes that there are many options to enjoy boating safely and responsibly, such as waiting until returning to land to consume alcohol. Otte’s goal is to prevent others from experiencing the pain and suffering she has endured due to a preventable drunk boating accident.