It’s mid-July and summer is underway. With that comes boating outings, from the North Shore to the South Shore. Recently there has been a terrifying rise in boating accidents, including boating while intoxicated. This is unacceptable, illegal and poses an imminent threat to boats, swimmers and kayakers who may cross paths with a drunk boater.
Long Islanders flock to the water in these warm summer months. There are fishing trips, day outings, educational boating tours and more. Drunk boaters pose a threat to each and every one of them and have no place in our waters.
That’s why I sponsor a bill to link Boating under the Influence aka ‘BUI’ to drivers licenses. Because drunk boaters, especially repeat offenders who also threaten our roadways, should be held accountable for their reckless actions that threaten innocent fellow boaters. Linking their BUI to their drivers license will raise the stakes, will help hold these bad actors accountable, and will help remove dangerous actors from our waters and our roadways.
But that’s not enough. Years ago DUIs became an epidemic. It was through public awareness campaigns and strict, enforced laws that our society was able to hold these negligent drivers accountable. When driving while intoxicated with children in the car hit its tipping point, New York State passed Leandra’s Law to impose harsher penalties on drunk drivers who put children at risk by drinking and driving with children in the car.
Now we must impose these same standards for boaters who put themselves and others in danger when they drink and boat.
I am introducing a bill similar to Leandra’s Law that will make sure that drunk boaters who put children at risk are held to the toughest standards. When the legislative session returns, we must swiftly pass this. We must also pass my bill to link BUIs to drivers licenses.
Boating is a treasured Long Island pastime. Whether it is recreational or educational, boating allows us to enjoy our beautiful waterways. That’s why it’s so important we ensure boating is safe. Drunk boaters have no place on our waters.
—Senator Jim Gaughran
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