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Boating on Sound? Connecticut toughens drunk boating law

May
28

You know that it’s no more legal to be driving a boat than a car when you’re drunk. Now Connecticut has toughened its boating while intoxicated law.

This comes after Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s law last year doling out harsher penalties to anyone who kills someone while boating drunk.

Here’s a press release from Rell’s office, dating May 27:

Governor Rell Signs Bill Strengthening
Investigations In Drunken Boating Cases

New Law Extends Time Limit For Blood Alcohol Tests

Governor M. Jodi Rell today signed a bill into law that gives prosecutors more tools and more time to investigate drunken boating cases, by eliminating time restrictions on when blood alcohol tests maybe taken if expert testimony establishes the reliability of the test.

Prompted by the 2007 death of Susan Brandes, a South Windsor woman who was killed instantly by an out-of-control speedboat in the Connecticut River, the law specifically allows tests for blood alcohol (BAC) to be administered beyond the current two-hour limit.

Authorities say an intoxicated boater fell out of his speedboat moments before it sliced into a sailboat carrying Brandes, her husband and another couple on the Connecticut River in Old Saybook. As the emergency unfolded, paramedics attended to the casualties on the water first and police and others worked to stop the runaway boat, so a BAC was not taken from the suspect until 2 hours and 10 minutes after the crash. The blood alcohol test was ruled inadmissible in court.

“The deadly mix of alcohol and driving or boating changes lives forever. As we head into the summer and the height of the boating season, the memory of that tragic accident is a grim reminder of the consequences,” Governor Rell said. “Those who disregard the law and the safety will be dealt with severely. This law gives police and prosecutors another effective tool in bringing those responsible to justice.”

Signed by the Governor during National Safe Boating Week, Senate Bill 272, An Act Concerning Drunk Boating, aligns the state’s drunken-boating law with its drunken diving law by eliminating the BAC time restrictions. The new law takes effect immediately.

The Governor said the legislation builds on a 2009 drunken boating bill she proposed and signed into law that imposes harsher penalties – including longer prison sentences – for boaters convicted of killing someone while operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That law also arose out of the 2007 fatality.

“The horrors of that tragedy three years ago on the Connecticut River will resonant with everyone affected – family, friends and the first responders whose priority was to save lives that day,” Governor Rell said. “Drinking and boating cannot and will not be tolerated in Connecticut. There is far too much at stake.”

This entry was posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010 at 11:37 am by Ken Valenti. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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Going Places is your online source for shortcuts and news on the ins and outs of getting around the Lower Hudson Valley. We'll help you deal with traffic tie-ups, bad drivers and the high cost of commuting.

Going Places is written by transportation writers Khurram Saeed and Ken Valenti. Khurram's transportation column, "Getting There," runs Wednesdays in Rockland. Ken's column, "Going Places," runs Mondays in Westchester and Putnam. Join in the conversation and share tips on coping with fellow commuters.

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About the author
Khurram SaeedKhurram SaeedKhurram Saeed has been reporting for The Journal News since 2000. He writes about transportation issues in Rockland and has a weekly column called Getting There, which appears Wednesdays. READ MORE


Ken Valenti Ken Valenti Ken Valenti covers trains, planes and automobiles - not to mention buses and ferries - for Westchester and Putnam. He's been a reporter with The Journal News and its forerunners more than 20 years and has covered all four corners of Westchester County. READ MORE


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