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Boating while intoxicated and legal changes

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2017 | DWI |

The summer season may have come to a close last week, but sunny, warm weather has certainly prevailed in New York. With this warm weather naturally comes the desire to set off on one of the state’s many beautiful lakes. Boating is a popular sport in New York and in most parts of the country, but what happens when the fun turns to more serious matters? Operating a boat while intoxicated comes with dire consequences, but knowing the legal details and the state’s say on the issue can help one better understand the topic as a whole. 

Democrat and Chronicle released an article last year stating that alcohol-related boating accidents in certain areas of New York have been on the rise. Yet according to an update in state law, prior drunken driving arrests could potentially make matters worse for those caught operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol. A bill that took effect in November 2016 allowed judges to look more closely into the background of those arrested for driving while under the influence; many lawmakers considered this update a long-awaited closing of a loophole in the law. The law itself was inspired by the death of a young woman who was killed by a drunk driver of a boat. For further clarification, the Democrat and Chronicle adds that if one should face a boat-related drunk driving conviction, judges may also consider his or her convictions of the last 5 years.

One might assume that 2016’s stricter boating law would result in an overall reduction in arrests. However, The Daily Gazette confirmed earlier this month that certain areas of New York have seen an increase in the number of boating-related drunk driving arrests. This increased awareness since the bill’s passing may not have been incentive to practice safer driving habits while on the water, but the stricter enforcement that followed the bill allowed for more arrests for driving a boat while intoxicated. Lake George, the area that has seen a particular increase in arrests, now houses a number of night patrol officers who keep a close eye on drivers. Many officials credit this night patrol for the recent increase in DWI arrests.