SACRAMENTO —Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation authored by Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County) to allow boats driven by intoxicated individuals to be impounded for up to 30 days.
If a person is killed by a boater under the influence of drugs or alcohol and convicted of such crime, Senate Bill 393 calls for the boat used in the commission of the crime to be subject to asset forfeiture rules currently imposed on automobiles.
“SB 393 is a simple measure, but it shouldn’t matter if a person is killed by a car or a boat driven by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol- the victim is still dead and the vehicle used in the crime should be subject to asset forfeiture,” Stone said in a prepared statement.
The legislation was introduced after Stone learned about the death of 10-year-old Sara Margiotta, who was killed on the Colorado River in 2007 when the family’s boat was hit by an intoxicated boater.
After their daughter was killed on the river, the Margiotta Family formed Sara’s Way, a non-profit organization, to raise awareness about the importance of boating safety and the dangers of intoxicated boating.
“I thank the Governor for signing this legislation and urge boaters not to drink when they are operating their vessels,” Stone said.
More than 600 boaters died in 2018 while out for a good time, according to a report the U.S. Coast Guard released in September. Its 2018 Recreational Boating Statistics Report showed that while there were 633 boating fatalities nationwide in 2018 that represented a 3.8% decrease from 2017.
According to the report, overall recreational boating injuries also decreased from 2,629 in 2017 to 2,511 last year, a 4.5% decline, and the total number of accidents decreased 3.4%, from 4,291 to 4,145.
Despite the overall drop, alcohol and the failure to use life jackets continue to be leading factors in boating fatalities.
“While these decreases are encouraging, there are still too many deaths and injuries that could be avoided through the use of life jackets and eliminating alcohol consumption while operating a boat,” Captain Scott Johnson, chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, said in a statement that accompanied the report’s release.
Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2018, accounting for 100 deaths, or 19 percent of total fatalities.
Sen. Stone represents California’s 28th Senate District. The district, which is entirely in Riverside County, stretches from the vineyards of the Temecula Valley to the Colorado River and includes the cities of Blythe, Canyon Lake, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta, Temecula, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Wildomar.
- Speedboat: Image by TeeFarm from Pixabay