Channel patrol

Lake Havasu City police officer Jason Johnston patrols Bridgewater Channel during Spring Break in this March 22, 2013 file photo.

A proposed new law would oblige Arizona boaters to follow some similar rules as car drivers.

The bill, House Bill 2003, sponsored by state Reps. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, and Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, addresses accident reporting and intoxication.

The bill would, if approved, require the operator of a boat involved in a collision or accident to remain on scene and assist anyone who may have been injured. The boaters would also need to exchange names, address, and watercraft information with others involved.

Under the proposed law, authorities would complete accident reports similar to traffic accident reports, but the reports couldn’t be used as evidence in court.

“I’m not big on overregulation, but everything should be even and fair,” said Borrelli. “We need to do something about boating because if someone smashes your boat right now and takes off, it is currently not considered a hit and run.”

If someone is seriously injured or dies from the accident and the boaters do not stop, or fails to remain on scene and attempt to help they will be guilty of a class five felony. Those circumstances with minor injuries would be classified as a class six felony. If property is damaged and boaters fail to stop and comply with requirements, they would be guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor, according to bill information.

If someone is convicted of operating a boat under the influence, they will receive ten days or more in jail and pay fines of more than $250 along with any other penalties the court sees fit.

“It took a long time for DUI laws to catch up with boating and you don’t have a driver’s license to operate a boat so now if you refuse a breathalyzer we can’t take your license away but we can fine you,” said Borrelli. “We want to discourage these actions and make the waters safer for everyone and protect personal property.”

Boaters may be asked to take urine, blood, or breathe tests to determine if they were under the influence while operating the watercraft. Anyone who refuses these tests would be subject to a civil penalty of $750 under the bill’s provisions.

The bill is subject to change as it is still going through the passing process.

For more information on the bill go to

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