Boating Accidents in Milwaukee – The problem with summer fun on the lake

As anyone who has ever lived in Milwaukee knows, the summer season is one of the best times to live in this city. The weather in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin is beautiful in the summer months, and it is nearly impossible to resist heading out to one of our many lakes for some fun. The problem with this common pastime is the frequency of accidents caused by intoxicated boaters on our lakes, a statistic that rises dramatically each summer.

Just this week, according to an NBC TMJ-4 Milwaukee report, a two-boat collision on Friday night on Nagawicka Lake in Delafield killed a 61-year old woman, and authorities arrested a 53-year old man under suspicion of driving his boat under the influence of alcohol.

The senselessness of such tragic accidents is inescapable and highlights a larger problem in society as a whole. While most people readily understand the dangers of driving their cars, trucks, or motorcycles under the influence, there seems to be a certain disconnect when it comes to operating a boat or jet ski while drinking. Whether it is a social norm, lack of public awareness, or a blatant disregard for common sense, there are far too many accidents involving drunken boaters each year in Milwaukee.

It is easy to believe that these accidents can happen though, as anyone who has been out on the lake recently will tell you. One look around on a busy weekend will show people openly consuming alcoholic beverages on their boats without guilt or secrecy, even if they are the “designated captain”. Whether they are fishing, waterskiing, or just enjoying a leisurely trip around the lake, people seem to believe that consuming alcohol and operating a boat is perfectly safe.

What many people do not know is that boating while intoxicated (BWI) is prohibited according to Wisconsin law. Because alcohol is a major contributor to injuries and deaths on state waterways, the authorities have the right to test suspected intoxicated individuals for drugs or alcohol if they operate or attempt to operate a vessel. Much like the similar laws on land, a person is considered to be intoxicated if they have a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08% or higher or if they are found to be under the influence of other drugs, according to Boat-Ed Wisconsin.

If an individual is found to be guilty of boating while intoxicated, their boat may be impounded, they may face serious fines, and there is even the possibility of jail time. In addition, if they hurt or kill another person while operating a vessel while under the influence, they may face civil action from the individual or the family of the other party involved. These civil actions can be a personal injury lawsuit, or a wrongful death lawsuit, which often seek compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages, medical bills, physical therapy, and other damages. There are established personal injury law firms in Milwaukee that can help the families of those who have been hurt or killed in a boating accident.

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