The term drunk boating refers to operating a vessel or ship under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in excess of any limits set by state law or to the degree that the operator of the ship or vessel cannot safely operate and navigate the ship or vessel. Drunk boating is a leading cause of maritime fatalities, especially in the case of recreational boating accidents in the United States. In 2007, drunk boating caused 391 known recreational boating accidents, 145 known deaths and 341 known injuries in the United States. The federal government requires that each qualifying maritime employer must have a plan in place to test and screen prospective and existing employees for drug and alcohol use. The employers must maintain records for a period of one to five years and must be reported to the US Coast Guard as required by law. Prospective employees must be screened prior to beginning work in a safety sensitive position and the results of such screening must be kept for the duration of that employee's tenure with the maritime employer.
Additionally, each year, the maritime employer is required to conduct random testing according to a statistically based method of at least 50% of its employees who are required to be tested. Testing is also required in every case where there is reasonable cause to believe that an employee is operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on duty or in the event of a serious maritime accident. Maritime employers are required to keep a drug and alcohol testing equipment on board each vessel.