Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today announced that he has successfully sponsored legislation that will require all prior convictions of operating a vehicle while intoxicated to be considered during sentencing of a subsequent Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) conviction. This change will allow previous convictions of driving while intoxicated or alcohol related driving offenses involving other vehicles to impact subsequent sentencing.
Under current law, repeat DWI, BWI, or SWI offenders are subject to increased penalties, including license revocation, fines, and incarceration. However, it possible for those convicted in separate cases of DWI, BWI, SWI, or operating an ATV while intoxicated to be treated as a first-time offender in each instance.
The legislation would also permit any prior conviction of BWI to be considered during any subsequent DWI, SWI or ATV offense. It is named in honor of Tiffany Heitkamp who was killed in upstate New York in July of 2006 while riding in a boat being operated by an intoxicated driver. The driver of the boat had a record of alcohol-related automobile incidents, but could only be charged as a first-time offender.
"Boating should be a safe and enjoyable experience and those who boat while intoxicated are endangering everyone else who is out on the waters. This measure will strengthen the ability of law enforcement to penalize those who abuse the law by repeatedly putting others at risk and will promote boating safety throughout the state," stated Senator Flanagan.
In 2004, the most recent year statistics are available from the state's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, there were about 520,000 registered boats in New York, with 178 boating accidents reported. Of the 18 boating accidents that resulted in deaths in New York that year, nearly 28 percent involved alcohol.
Over the past few years, Senator Flanagan has successfully fought to increase the safety of the boating community by enhancing boating while intoxicated penalties that govern operation of boats. In 2003, he was successful in lowering the New York State's BWI blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold from .10 to .08. And last August, a new law he sponsored that increased penalties for boating while intoxicated to the same level as those faced by drunk drivers went into effect.
The legislation was sent to the Assembly for further action.
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