According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, in 2011 there were 6 deaths, 8 injuries, 124 arrests and 23 boat accidents involving alcohol consumption while operating a boat. This week there was a very serious boat accident in Anne Arundel County Maryland. Several children were injured including one who may have a fractured skull. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the children and families of those injured in the boat accident that occurred on Wednesday in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
According to The Washington Post, A boat operated by Maryland Delegate Donald Dwyer, apparently crashed into a boat full of children (and two adults) on the Magothy River in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Four were injured including a 5 year old girl who was flown from the site of the boat accident to Johns Hopkins Hospital. According to The Washington Post, Delegate Dwyer may have been intoxicated at the time of the crash, and he even admitted "It is true that I was drinking while operating my boat."
In terms of civil liability for this boat crash, Boat accidents on navigable waters in Maryland are governed by Maritime law rather than by Maryland common law. Therefore, the doctrine of contributory negligence does not apply (not that it would apply to this case anyway---young children cannot be contributorily negligent in Maryland). Hopefully Delegate Dwyer had purchased liability insurance for the boat that he was operating.
If Delegate Dwyer was in fact under the influence of alcohol at the time of the boat crash, then he will likely face criminal charges for this Maryland boat accident as well. In Maryland it is illegal to operate a boat while even under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The applicable law is in the Natural Resources SEction of the Maryland COde at Section 8-738. The penalty for a first offense of driving a boat while drunk is up to a year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine for a first offense. He would most likely only be charged with midemeanors because the only felony would be for operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol that kills someone. The law is set forth below:§ 8-738. Operation of vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs prohibited
(a) Subject to subsection (g) of this section, a person may not operate or attempt to operate a vessel while the person:
(1) Is under the influence of alcohol;
(2) Is impaired by alcohol;
(3) Is so far impaired by any drug, combination of drugs, or combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person cannot operate a vessel safely; or
(4) Is impaired by any controlled dangerous substance, as defined in § 5-101 of the Criminal Law Article, unless the person is entitled to use the controlled dangerous substance under the laws of the State.