Drink­ing on boats de­bate

Black: Boat­ing laws in­ef­fec­tive

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Na­tional leg­isla­tive change is needed to stop drunken boat­ies get­ting into strife on wa­ter­ways, Queen­stown Lakes District Coun­cil har­bour­mas­ter Marty Black says. Mr Black, a mem­ber of the Na­tional Plea­sure Boat Strat­egy Fo­rum for the south­ern re­gion, called for Govern­ment ac­tion af­ter an in­ci­dent on the Kawa­rau River on Fri­day night. The fo­rum is re­view­ing the cur­rent safety pro­vi­sions of mar­itime leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing al­co­hol con­sump­tion. Drink­ing al­co­hol is not specif­i­cally cov­ered by mar­itime leg­is­la­tion, or by­laws, al­though a Queen­stown by­law al­lows for an in­stant fine if a skip­per is drunk and the Mar­itime Trans­port Act has pro­vi­sions for en­dan­ger­ment and caus­ing risk. How­ever, there is no stan­dard of proof, test or level spec­i­fied. Speak­ing to the Mir­ror, Mr Black said any spe­cific pro­vi­sion for al­co­hol con­sump­tion by recre­ational boat­ies was a na­tional leg­isla­tive con­sid­er­a­tion. So far this sum­mer there was only one al­co­hol-re­lated in­ci­dent on Lake Wakatipu. The trou­ble started when two men were drink­ing while driv­ing a jet boat along the river but the boat ran into rocks by the Kawa­rau Falls Bridge just be­fore 11pm. A mem­ber of the pub­lic heard a crash by the bridge and saw the boat be­ing pushed off a rock. The boat then hit an­other rock be­fore fi­nally be­ing pushed off again and head­ing back down­stream. Mr Black was called out with a res­cue he­li­copter. He found the boat with two men in it, 100 me­tres down­stream from a bridge where their car and boat trailer were parked. The boat was dam­aged but the men, both in their 20s, were un­harmed. The boat was equipped with flares, a ra­dio and life­jack­ets, but both men had been drink­ing. Mr Black said po­lice breath-tested the men in front of him, one blow­ing 690 mi­cro­grams per litre of breath and the other "very close to that". About 15 min­utes af­ter po­lice spoke to them, po­lice stopped the ve­hi­cle and boat trailer which was be­ing driven by one of the men who had been in the jet boat. He failed a breath test and was pro­cessed for drink-driv­ing. Sergeant Blair Duffy, of Queen­stown, said a 28-year-old man was pro­cessed for drink-driv­ing at 12.15am on Satur­day on the Kingston high­way. Mr Black said lo­cal by­laws pro­vided for a $500 in­stant fine for be­ing in charge of a boat while in­tox­i­cated but there was no stan­dard of proof in­di­cated, and no test or level of in­tox­i­ca­tion spec­i­fied. "If push came to shove, I don’t think it would stand up in court," he said. Un­der the Mar­itime Trans­port Act recre­ational boat­ies can be fined up to $10,000 or sen­tenced to up to 12 months’ jail for caus­ing un­nec­es­sary dan­ger or risk to per­sons or property. Mar­itime New Zealand spokesman Steve Ren­dle said there was noth­ing spe­cific re­lated to recre­ational boat­ies and al­co­hol but pros­e­cu­tions had been brought for en­dan­ger­ment or risk in­volv­ing drink­ing.

Photo: JAMES AL­LAN

On the rocks: Po­lice speak to the men in­volved in Fri­day night’s in­ci­dent where a boat crashed into the Kawa­rau Bridge.

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