Call for re­form of drink rules for leisure sailors

Yachting Monthly - - NEWS -

The Bri­tish Ports As­so­ci­a­tion (BPA) is urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to close what it has called ‘the drink-drive loop­hole’ for recre­ational sailors.

It said leg­is­la­tion im­pos­ing al­co­hol lim­its for non-pro­fes­sional mariners should be in­tro­duced and that it should repli­cate the ex­ist­ing law for com­mer­cial cap­tains in Bri­tish wa­ters. The le­gal limit to cap­tain a ship is cur­rently 35 mi­cro­grams of al­co­hol in 100ml of breath.

At­tempts to bring in drink driv­ing of­fences, in­clud­ing spe­cific al­co­hol lim­its for leisure sailors, were in­cluded in the Rail­ways and Trans­port Safety Act 2003, but it has never been brought into force. The RYA op­posed the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion at the time, say­ing it would be un­en­force­able. It now says it wouldn’t ob­ject to a new law if it was ‘clear, un­der­stand­able and en­force­able.’

Richard Bal­lan­tyne, the BPA’S chief ex­ec­u­tive, said al­co­hol had en­dan­gered lives too many times.

‘We un­der­stand there will be tech­ni­cal chal­lenges to over­come and that en­force­ment will not be easy, but it can­not be right in this day and age that such a size­able sec­tion of our mar­itime sec­tor is ex­empt from drink-drive rules,’ he added.

Un­der the Mer­chant Ship­ping Act 1995, sailors can al­ready be pros­e­cuted if they en­dan­ger other ves­sels, struc­tures or peo­ple when they are un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol. Lo­cal har­bour author­ity by-laws also al­low skip­pers to be pros­e­cuted if they are un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol while in charge.

The BPA wants to work with bod­ies like the Cruis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and the Mar­itime and Coast­guard Agency to tackle ‘drinkdrive’ rules for recre­ational sailors

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