A new piece of legislation in the State of New York is aiming to strengthen the laws pertaining to Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) charges in New York.

Speedboat On New York Waterway

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the new legislation on August 16th, 2016 and the new laws will be effective starting on November 1st, 2016.

This article discusses the current laws that pertain to boating while intoxicated in New York and the upcoming changes to these laws that could make the penalties faced by individuals convicted for BWI charges much harsher.

About Tiffany Heitkamp’s Law

Boat On Lake In New YorkThe new law, known as Tiffany Heitkamp’s Law, will link drinking while driving charges on the road with boating while intoxicated charges.

In other words, courts will now be required to consider previous DWI convictions when sentencing an individual for boating while intoxicated charges under certain circumstances.

A person convicted of boating while intoxicated in the State of New York is currently subject to $500 in fines, as well as a suspended vessel registration and other potential penalties. This is the case regardless of any previous DWI convictions that a person may have in the past.

But after the new BWI legislation goes into effect on November 1st, individuals convicted of boating while intoxicated in New York may face much more serious penalties if they have been convicted of DWI-related charges in the past.

Specifically, judges will have to consider any prior drunk driving convictions that occurred within the past five years for individuals convicted of driving while intoxicated and being sentenced to at least 30 days in jail.

The new law also works the other way around, meaning that prior boating while intoxicated convictions will now be considered for other DWI and DWAI charges going forward.

Why Did The Law Change?

The new law came about as the result of several alcohol-related boating accidents that have occurred in New York recent years, including the case of Tiffany Heitkamp who was killed during a boating accident in Herkimer County, NY.

Many people have been arguing for years that the laws relating to boating while intoxicated in New York are not strict enough. This new legislation aims to strengthen the existing BWI laws and deter intoxicated boating on New York’s waterways by making the penalties harsher for repeat offenders.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Comments On New Law

“Whether behind the wheel of a car or a boat, drunk drivers are a danger to themselves and a menace to others,” stated Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a release following the bill’s Aug. 16 signing. “This new law closes this loophole and will help keep these dangerous individuals off our roads and waterways, avoiding more senseless tragedies.”

For more articles about New York’s DWI laws and recent DWI-related news, visit the New York DUI Law blog here.