Erin Brockovich is facing a misdemeanor DUI charge after being busted on a boat.
Not Julia Roberts, the real Erin Brockovich.
The environmental activist, who famously helped to uncover a drinking water contamination case, seems to have borrowed the Middle Ages' solution to dirty drinking water. Brockovich-Ellis is accused of operating a boat while intoxicated at Lake Mead in Nevada, Los Angeles' KNBC-TV reports.
Boating Under the Influence
All states have laws against boating under the influence (BUI), which make it a crime to operate a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Brockovich-Ellis was charged after police say she threw a cell phone into the water, slapped her husband, and openly admitted she was a terrible boat driver, reports TMZ.
When a game warden approached to investigate the situation, he suspected Brockovich-Ellis was under the influence, claiming she smelled like alcohol and and was slurring her speech.
She reportedly blew a 0.186% and 0.190% on a Breathalyzer, which is more than double the 0.08% legal limit.
In Nevada, drunken boating is treated similarly to drunk driving. As long as no one gets hurt, it usually results in a misdemeanor. If injuries are involved, however, it can lead to a serious felony with lengthy prison sentences.
For a simple misdemeanor BUI, Brockovich-Ellis may face up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
Operating under the influence is a serious problem in boating, officials said. Some 50% of all fatal boat accidents are alcohol-related, reports KNBC.
Different factors can affect a boat operator's physical and mental abilities while on the water. These include heat, sun, noise, wind, glare, and the motion of a boat on the water for a long period of time.
These factors are often referred to as "boater's fatigue." If alcohol and drugs are also involved, one's ability to safely operate a vessel on the water can be severely affected.
This is what reportedly happened to Brockovich-Ellis.
"After a day in the sun and with nothing to eat it appears that a couple of drinks had a greater impact than I had realized," she said in a statement, obtained by TMZ.
If you, like Andy Samberg, are on a boat, you may want to take the following precautions:
- Be extra careful on major holiday weekends like the Fourth of July and Labor Day,
- Stay hydrated and well-fed,
- Protect yourself from prolonged sun exposure,
- Know your local boating regulations, and
- Make sure you and all passengers on the boat wear life vests.
"Boaters mistakenly think that boating and drinking go hand in hand," a spokesman for the Nevada wildlife department said, according to KNBC. "They certainly do not. If we could keep people sober while operating, we'd have much safer waterways."
- Erin Brockovich issues public apology for boating DUI arrest, says she's 'very sorry' (New York Daily News)
- Don't Let Boating 'Under the Influence' Spoil Fun on the Water (FindLaw's Insider)
- Florida Boating Accident Report Puts Spotlight on Maritime Law (FindLaw's Injured)
- Punishment for Boating Under the Influence? (FindLaw's Blotter)