Opinion: Drunken boating bill deserves support

Published online: Feb 04, 2011 News www.siouxcityjournal.com
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In our view, driving a boat while consuming alcohol is just as dangerous as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. In terms of what constitutes intoxication, the two offenses should be treated the same under the laws of our state.

That's why we support a bill passed on a 40-9 vote in the Iowa Senate on Wednesday (disappointingly, Sens. Bill Anderson and Rick Bertrand of Sioux City were among the senators who opposed the legislation).

The bill would lower the blood alcohol-content threshold for intoxication for anyone operating a motorboat or sailboat in Iowa from its current .10 percent to .08 percent - the same standard for anyone driving a motor vehicle.

"You have to understand boats can go 50, 60 miles an hour, and they have no brakes," Sen. Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines and the bill's Senate floor manager, said in a story filed on Thursday by the Journal's Des Moines bureau.

Good point. In short, if you have consumed too much booze to be behind the wheel of a car, you're too drunk to be behind the wheel of a boat.

"I think this is in the best public interest," said Rep. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton. "I think this law would not only make enforcement better, I think it would make the waterways safer."

We agree with Kaufman and believe improved public safety and a stronger deterrent to drinking and boating trump whatever reservations may exist about this bill.

The legislation next moves to the House. We urge House members to join their Senate colleagues, pass the bill and send it on to Gov. Terry Branstad for his signature.


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