Re: suffolk county ny boating license
Legislators mandate safe boating courses for county residents
By Elana GlowatzWrite The Author
Suffolk’s Safer Waterways Act requires all pleasure boaters to take a boating safety course. File photo
September 20, 2012 | 09:49 AM
Suffolk County legislators unanimously passed a bill last week that requires boaters to take a safety course before operating in county waters.
Suffolk's Safer Waterways Act, introduced by Legislators Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills), Lynne Nowick (R-St. James) and Tom Barraga (R-West Islip), is still waiting for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's signature, according to Stern spokesman Bryan Galgano. If signed, the law would go into effect one year afterward, giving instructors and boaters "the time that they need to get everybody up to speed."
The legislation, which passed Sept. 14, mandates all boaters who are Suffolk County residents operating a pleasure vessel in county waters have a boating safety certificate and keep it aboard the vessel while it is being operated.
New York State navigation law defines a pleasure vessel as one that is used for neither commercial nor residential purposes.
According to the legislation, the safety certificates may be issued by "any entity that offers a boating course that meets the standards set by the National Association of [State] Boating Law Administrators," such as the United States Power Squadrons, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary or the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Violators face a $250 fine for the first offense, a $500 fine for the second offense and a fine of $1,000 and/or a year imprisonment for a third offense.
The act applies to all waters within the boundaries of Suffolk County or parts of larger bodies that are adjacent to Suffolk and are within jurisdiction of New York State.
The legislation comes two months after a boating accident in Oyster Bay in which three children died.
Huntington Town's senior harbormaster Harry Acker said, "It's an outstanding idea but I think the legislation falls short."
Acker said because most instructors are volunteers, this legislation could overwhelm the system.
Galgano said in an interview Tuesday that the one-year waiting period effectively gives boaters until the start of the 2014 boating season to become certified, as the law would not go into effect until after the 2013 season is over. He said this gives the instructors time to meet higher demand.
Acker pointed to other holes, such as what Suffolk County authorities would do about people who are not county residents boating in Suffolk waters.
Galgano said the hope is that a certification or licensing system becomes a statewide effort. He said Suffolk County's legislation could help "give it some momentum."
The Huntington harbormaster said licensing is something that should be done by the state, and could be tied into the licensing system for land vehicles.
"They can charge a nominal fee to upgrade your license" to show a boater took a safety course, he said.
Even with a licensing system, Acker said the fact remains that many local boating incidents and summonses stem from people violating other laws such as speed limits or boating while intoxicated. He compared it to people texting while driving — "It's illegal and everybody knows it," but they still text or talk on the phone while driving.
State legislators have also been exploring whether New York should enact tighter boating regulations. Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Relations, said recently he expects that by January the committee will have recommendations for legislation on the issue.
The state currently requires boater safety education for anyone operating a Jet Ski and for minors ages 10-18 operating a motorboat.
Brookhaven Harbormaster Peter Koutrakos, whose office is at Port Jefferson Harbor, said the Suffolk County legislation has "long been needed and it's about time that it happens."
Koutrakos estimated that in 80 percent of the accidents he sees on the water, the incident could have been avoided if the boater "had a little more knowledge."
He gave an example of a man who was coming in on a misty night and was using GPS instead of radar to navigate. The boater slammed into an entrance buoy, causing damage to his boat, and his face hit the dashboard, breaking his nose. When Koutrakos arrived the next morning, he found "the dock covered in blood."
so, even if It did pass it wouldn't go into affect till Sept, this year. Too many holes in it right now to pass IMO .
Last edited by Havana Shamrock; 03-12-2013 at 02:41 PM.
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