Senator Flanagan's Boating While Intoxicated Law Honored For Impact On Safety

John J. Flanagan

September 20, 2006

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) recently joined with other state officials recently as the National Safe Boating Council honored New York State for their efforts on behalf of boaters. The Council's Pillar of Support Award was presented to New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro at a press conference at the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach State Park.

Senator Flanagan's joint efforts with Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli (16th Assembly District) to increase penalties for boating while intoxicated were cited as a key part of the reason for the distinction bestowed upon New York State.

"Boating while intoxicated infringes on the rights of law abiding boaters, puts innocent lives at risk and now it will be treated as the serious crime it is. The simple message is that if you operate a boat after drinking in New York State, you will be held accountable and you will face real penalties," stated Senator Flanagan. "Be smart, designate a driver whether in your car or on the water and be safe."

The award, which was presented by Virgil Chambers, Executive Director of the National Safe Boating Council, also recognizes the State's efforts to promote public education campaigns during National Safe Boating Week in May. "Together, the National Safe Boating Council and the United States Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety join in honoring New York State with the Pillar of Support Award," said Ms. Chambers.

Since 1995, New York State has enacted laws to require personal watercraft education, toughen boating-while-intoxicated laws, strengthen vessel emission statutes, improve mandatory lifejacket wear requirements, and provide increased state assistance for boating navigation enforcement. New York ranks among the leaders nationally in the number of registered vessels, with more than 510,000.

"From the ocean waters off Jones Beach to the Erie Canal and Great Lakes, New York boasts an extensive network of pristine waterways that are enjoyed by more than one million recreational boaters each year," said Commissioner Castro. "With Governor Pataki's support, we are strongly committed to ensuring safe waters, through education and enforcement, for recreational boaters in the Empire State. Together with our many partners, we are encouraging operators of all watercraft to take every precaution to develop and practice safe habits for the safest boating season ever."

Along with the new Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) law signed by Governor Pataki and sponsored by Senator Flanagan and Assemblyman DiNapoli, the state has raised the minimum age of personal watercraft operators to fourteen.

"I am proud that New York State is being recognized for our efforts to enhance boating safety. The waterways off of Long Island and throughout our state offer the best recreational experience for all to enjoy and that enjoyment should not be endangered by reckless behavior," stated Senator Flanagan. "Education and awareness are the keys to making certain that safe boating is the norm on our waterways and I applaud the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the role they play in raising that awareness."

For more information about boating safety and marine recreation in New York State, visitwww.nysparks.comor call 518-474-0445. If you would like a copy of the New York State Boater's Guide, please CLICK HEREto order a copy from Senator Flanagan.