Bill To Toughen Boat Accident Penalties
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. June 18, 2013
New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would toughen the penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident.
The bill comes in response to crash on the Barnegat Bay in 2008 when a speedboat hit another vessel killing one person and injuring two others.
Bonnie Post’s husband was killed that day. She’s hoping increased penalties will be a deterrent.
“The man that hit us and left us to drown, he got a $25 fine and that was it. I’m not sure that’s any incentive for him to never do that again.”
Unlike a car crash that could be noticed by other motorists, Post says it can take a long time to get help on the water.
She says anyone who hits something with a boat should check to make sure no one was hurt.
“On a boat unlike a street where victims are on the street and can be found, on a boat you have people that are knocked unconscious. I was unconscious. I luckily stayed on the boat, but I could have been thrown overboard.”
Current New Jersey law does not provide specific punishment for failing to report a boating accident.
The bill advanced by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee would make it a third degree crime with up to five years in prison. Fleeing an accident that resulted in death would be punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.
Senator Jim Holzapfel says the bill mirrors what’s required in motor vehicle accidents.
“Anything that would assist people who are out with their families enjoying the water that they feel a little bit safer, and everyone understands there’s a requirement as common sense as it is that if you’re involved in an accident that you don’t leave the scene.”