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New law makes drunk boating a felony if there are past DWIs

Summertime has arrived to New York, and residents are flocking to the state's lakes and waterways to enjoy some fun boating on the water. Sometimes individuals on boats consume alcohol, and most of them do so responsibly. However, boaters should take note that a recently passed law could impose on them felony charges for drunk boating.

The New York Legislature recently passed a law that would put drunk boating and drunk driving in the same category, meaning that those who have been convicted of DWI in the past, whether they were boating or driving, would face felony charges for a repeat offense on the road or the water.

The impetus for the change in the law came from a situation in which a man was operating a boat during sunset. His vision as impaired by the sun, and he had also consumed alcohol. His boat ran into an island, killing a 20-year-old woman. The man pled guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree. He was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years. At the time, New York law did not allow the man's previous drunk driving convictions to be factored into the case, as the situation involved boating not driving.

This law is important, as it could significantly impact those charged with drunk boating. What may have been a lesser charge may now be more serious if the individual involved had been convicted of drunk driving in the past, even if they have never been convicted of drunk boating. Therefore, those accused of drunk boating need to make sure they have a strong defense strategy. It is not something they may want to handle alone. Therefore, they may wish to consider seeking the advice of an attorney who can represent their interests in court.

Source:, "Only On 6: Tiffany's Law passes after partnership between convicted boat driver, mother," Anne McCloy, June 6, 2016

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