Sunday December 7th, 2008
ImageIt has been confirmed that the British Government want to introduce alcohol laws to recreational boating. The blood alcohol limits for non-professional boaters were originally introduced by the Department of Transport in 2003 but so far has never been enforced. It is understood that people navigating small, slow craft will be exempt but most motorboats will be affected.

RYA legal boss, Gus Lewis said of the matter 'We have unresolved concerns regarding which craft will be exempt, which individuals on board would be subject to the blood-alcohol limited and how the rules would be enforced (and by whom), which we do not believe have been addressed properly.'

BMF chief executive Howard Pridding has stated, 'Once the draft regulations are published for consultation then we will have a clearer idea as to what precisely is being proposed and if necessary, we will once again raise with the Department our concerns over issues of application and enforcement.'

The limits will be equivalent to those already in existence for professional mariners – that is 80 milligrams per hundred millilitres of blood. The proposed regulations will be applied to navigators of vessels which are over 23ft in length and/or capable of speeds of over 7 knots.

Last year Philip Colver of Cornwall who, in 2005, drove his motorboat into a 4.5m dory killing the owner and injuring two passengers was cleared of manslaughter and GBH despite being twice the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving on the road. Commenting on the case and proposals in 2007, RYA CEO, Rod Carr stated 'We believe that new legislation is unnecessary because there is still no evidence of the existence of an extensive problem relating to alcohol and boating.' but conceded that, given the seriousness of the government's intent the RYA would 'work hard with the DfT to ensure that sensible measures are put in place.'

Following Mr Colver’s court appearance in Truro, Detective Inspector Simon Selley said 'As in all cases that are brought before the courts involving alcohol, whether it is boats on the water, or cars on the road, there are no winners or losers. Many people can be affected by the outcome, and we would strongly encourage everyone to think first before making a decision that could affect the rest of their lives and others.'

The RYA have raised several issues related to the proposed legislation which include:
‘The precise clarification of which boats will be affected and in what circumstances.’
’Clarification of which persons on board boats will be affected.’
’How the legislation is going enforced and by whom.’

The draft regulations will be available for public consultation via the DfT website two weeks and consultation will be open for a period of 12 weeks.
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