SACRAMENTO — Alcohol use, drunken boaters, is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of deaths, according to the American Boating Association.

The Senate Committee on Public Safety on Wednesday, March 27 passed legislation authored by Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Riverside County, to allow boats driven by drunken boaters to be impounded for up to 30 days.

If a person is killed by a drunken boaters or 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.

drunken boater

Sen. Jeff Stone

“SB 393 aligns our BUI waterway laws with our roadway DUI laws. It’s 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, who authored the legislation 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 a drunken 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 drinking and boating.  SB 393, the drunken boater bill, will next be heard in the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

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.

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Image Sources

  • Sen. Jeff Stone: Sen. Jeff Stone
  • Drunken boating: Shutterstock