Bill Pushes For Tougher Intoxicated Boating Penalties

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By Alabama News Network

Boating deaths caused by alcohol are on the rise all across the country.

 
But penalties for killing someone while boating under the influence in Alabama aren't as strict as doing the same with a car.
 
A new bill this year is looking to change that. 
 
Life on the lake is something many Alabamians look forward to every summer.
But drinking and driving a boat leads to more and more deaths every year.
 
"I think that the difference is when you're on the boat, most of the time you're drinking, partying, but if you get that intoxicated where you can kill someone as far as a crash, I think it should be the same penalty," said Montgomery resident Charles Lee.
 
According to Alabama law, the maximum penalty for killing someone while boating under the influence is 5 years in prison, unlike drunk driving deaths involving a car which are double that amount. 
 
And Elmore County District Attorney Randall Houston has been working for years to change that. 
 
"We've presented it for the last four years. We've never had any opposition. I think the legislature understands that when these laws were passed there was an error in the language," said Houston. 
 
He says the only reason it hasn't passed is because lawmakers ran out of time each year. And the lawmaker championing the bill this year in the senate is Bryan Taylor.
 
"Nobody can argue that a life taken by a drunk boater is somehow worth less than the life taken by a drunk driver," said Sen. Taylor.
 
The bill has already made it through the senate, and it's companion bill in the house sponsored by Paul Beckman of Prattville has also passed in the house. 
 
Houston says now is the time for this law to change, because the state's lakes are getting more and more crowded.
 
"The population on the lake has just exploded. Whereas you could do that on the lake back then and get away with it and have very small chance of injuring someone. Now there's so many people on the lake and there's so much traffic up there."


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