New Law Aligns Boating Under the Influence with Motor Vehicle Law, Says Hess
To better protect the public on Pennsylvania waterways, Rep. Dick Hess (R-Bedford) supported legislation aimed at penalizing those found operating a boat while intoxicated. The new law mirrors the fines and penalties of those operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or an illegal substance.
“Operating a boat or motor vehicle is no different and the fines should be equal," Hess said. “Intoxicated boaters are a danger to others in the water just as much as an intoxicated driver is on the road."
The big difference under the new law aligns the charges, fines and penalties equal to what a motorist would face if cited, noted Hess.
The law, which was signed by the governor on July 8, requires a person to undergo a blood, breath or urine test for alcohol or a controlled substance if: 
  • A waterways conservation officer has reasonable grounds to believe a person is under the influence.
  • The person operating a watercraft is involved in an accident in which he, a passenger or any other person required medical treatment or was killed. 
Hess noted that the new law also establishes the minimum levels of a controlled substance, which need to be present in order to prosecute a person. These levels will be the same as those in force under the Vehicle Code.
Depending on the level of illegal substance and the number of prior offenses, a person could receive up to two years in jail, up to a $5,000 fine, and could be required to complete a boating safety course.
“Operating a boat under the influence has been proven to be a deadly combination, and this law will help to keep Pennsylvania citizens safe," Hess said.
Rep. Dick Hess
78th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(814) 623-9097
(717) 787-7076
Contact: Tim Eller
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 260-6242
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