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Lawmakers Ask Albany To Get Tough On BWI Offenders

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A group of lawmakers say a plague of drunk boating crashes has destroyed numerous Long Island families.

On Monday, they asked Albany to put more teeth into crime deterrents, making boating while intoxicated with a child on board a felony and revoking boaters' drivers' licenses, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

It has been an especially brutal summer on Long Island's waterways -- vulnerable boaters in sailboats, dinghies, kayaks, inflatables and more. There have been multiple victims of careless, reckless and drunk powerboat drivers.

State Sen. Jim Gaughran of Long Island said Monday he has an idea to combat the problem.

"Today, I am introducing a bill similar to Leandra's Law," Gaughran said.

Boating While Intoxicated Crash
(credit: Suffolk Police)

It's a bipartisan plan in Albany to save lives on the water.

"It will make it a felony if you are boating while intoxicated with a child on the boat," Gaughran said.

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Currently, doing so is only a misdemeanor. McLogan met some Long Island moms who wish that deterrent had been in place back when they lost their daughters.

"I wake up and I don't want to believe that it's real. I live with it every minute," Lisa Gaines said in reference to her late daughter Victoria.

"In the case of my accident, they were drinking, but it took so many hours for them to get their blood-alcohol," Brianna's Law sponsor Gina Lieneck said.

MOREBrianna's Law Passes First Hurdle Toward Better Boating Safety Training In New York

Statistics show the most significant contributing factors to deadly boating crashes on Long Island are booze, drugs, speeding , inexperienced and inattentive operators, and a lack of safety training.

"I have, unfortunately, known people who have gotten into accidents for those exact reasons," one person told McLogan.

"Driving a boat while you're intoxicated is the same thing as driving a car," another person said.

"I don't know how the patrolling would work out on the water," a person said.

"We will ask you to use our intoximeter. It's right here," Huntington Harbormaster Fred Uvena said.

Lawmakers are urging increased funding for BWI enforcement, and there's more to the bill.

"Revoke your driver's license if you are convicted of boating while intoxicated," Gaughran said.

Lawmakers used as an example a Long Island man who last month was arrested for BWI, then got in his car and was later arrested for DWI.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday is expected to sign Brianna's Law, making boating safety classes mandatory.

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