PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County Marine Police have launched a new crackdown on boating while intoxicated.
The Coast Guard reports 20 percent of all accidents on waterways are the result of alcohol impaired boaters, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported.
“We try to target a high traffic area where we know perhaps there’s a problem or where people are transiting and there’s a lot of drinking going on,” said Officer Frank Sierra. “If we pull you over and we speak to you and determine you are intoxicated, you will be arrested.”
Authorities emphasize that boating while intoxicated is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
“If you get into a motor vehicle accident you’re still on safe ground, here you may get into an accident and you can’t get out of the boat,” said Officer Kevin Comiskey said.
To help get drunk boaters off the water, Mothers Against Drunk Driving donated 10 Breathalyzers to Nassau and Suffolk police, TV 10/55’s Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported.
“Boats are large, fast, heavy destructive weapons,” said Danielle Rella, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “They can be used as weapons.”
Nine summers ago, an 11-year-old girl from Deer Park was killed when a large boat broadsided her family’s cabin cruiser.
“Her life was cut short and it all could have been avoided,” said Gina Lieneck, mother of Brittany Lieneck.
Gina Lieneck not only lost her young daughter that night, but her husband also sustained brain damage when the oncoming boat landed right on top of them.
The other boater admitted to police that he had a few drinks earlier that day, Rose reported.
Officers will also be checking to see if boaters have enough life jackets on board and whether boats are overcrowded.
Two years ago, three children drowned when a boat with 27 people aboard capsized in the Long Island Sound following a big Fourth of July celebration.
Speeding is another factor that has caused an increase in marine patrols this summer.
Just two weeks ago two men were injured after the boat they were in collided with a solid wood jetty at a high rate of speed in the Great South Bay.
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