Is it legal to drink and boat? The answer may surprise you

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington man faces charges after a boat crashed into several docks Thursday night along the Southport riverfront.

According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, 51-year-old Kevin Harrell is charged with operating a boat under the influence and careless and reckless boating.

Investigators say around 7 p.m. last night when the boat Harrell was driving caught a wake and lost control.

The force threw Harrell and three passengers from the boat, which was still in gear. It plowed through three docks and a stationary boat before stopping.

“The boat continued to move toward this side here and come right through these docks here and landed right here on this spot on the beach,” Criscoe said.

Neighbors were shocked by the damage, but say it could have been worse.

For many people, a boat trip often includes alcohol. But are you allowed to drink while piloting your boat?

Ofc. Matt Criscoe of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission says it’s a little different than when operating a car on the road, but it still falls on the driver to use their best judgement.

“He had enough in his system to be impaired,” Criscoe said. “After doing my SFST on him and taking him to Brunswick County, it confirmed that he was impaired.”

Criscoe says Harrell was well over the legal limit, which is .08, while traveling around 55 miles per hour.

He says people can drink while they drive a boat, but people need to know their limit.

“The operator can actually consume an alcoholic beverage while he’s on the boat and operating the boat, he just can’t be impaired while he’s doing that,” Criscoe said. “That’s the most important thing is his impairment. He’s got to judge how much he consumes during the day and if he feels that he’s to the point, he needs to stop drinking.”

Some people do not think boat drivers should drink at all while they are manning a vessel.

“People don’t keep track of how much they drink, and again you’re putting the lives of innocent people and yourself in jeopardy,” Southport resident Dennis Greenburg said.

“Why would you do that when you have guests with you who can really be hurt? It makes no sense to me to drink and drive anything” resident Ruth Greenburg said.

Criscoe says things could have ended a lot worse than they did here last night. He says none of the four men on the boat was seriously hurt.

Categories: Bladen, Local

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