Georgia — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Georgia is deeply saddened by the fatal boat crash involving a boat operator suspected of boating under the influence this past weekend near Savannah, Georgia.

“We are absolutely heartsick that the lives of five people were taken over the weekend as a result of someone’s choice. Our waterways should be a safe place for community members to enjoy,” said MADD Georgia Executive Director Denise Brodsky. “MADD is here to provide support to the families and the community impacted by this horrible tragedy.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is a leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading contributing factor in 18% of boating deaths in 2020.

Additionally, a boater is likely to become impaired more quickly than an automobile driver, and even moderate drinking can cause significant impairment on the water. The environmental stressors of the marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray – accelerate the impairing effects of alcohol. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boater’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when consuming alcohol.

Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against federal law and most state laws.

MADD National President Alex Otte was severely injured at just 13 years old by an intoxicated boat operator. Last week, Otte led the launch of MADD’s first-ever nationwide BUI awareness and enforcement campaign.

“It’s important to remember that driving any type of vehicle on the water or on land can cause traumatic injuries and tragic loss of life,” Otte said. “We want everyone to understand that a boat is a vehicle, and that boating under the influence is driving under the influence. Impairment by alcohol or any other drugs on the water is extremely dangerous and 100% preventable.”

MADD supports the U.S. Coast Guard in its efforts to remind all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and never boat under the influence.

For more information, visit madd.org/bui.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

MADD Georgia Contact: Denis Brodsky, denise.brodsky@madd.org

MADD Media Contact: Becky Iannotta, becky.iannotta@madd.org