Call for reform of drink rules for leisure sailors
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