A bill that tightens the rules on boating safety standards is awaiting Governor Mitch Daniels’ signature. The bill makes it a Class C misdemeanor for anyone to operate a boat while using a controlled substance. The crime would be punishable by up to 60 days in prison and a maximum fine of $500.
“It will make the waterways safer, hopefully as long as we will have people that will enforce the law,” Rusty Collier with J & R Guide Services says.
Collier’s wife and grandson were killed while on a fishing boat on Lake Monroe in 2010. The toxicology report showed the driver of the other boat had marijuana in his system. In a statement released Tuesday, Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) said it was this incident that inspired him to write the bill.
“This legislation is a no-brainer,” Steele said. “Whether you’re driving a car or a boat, if you’re under the influence of drugs, you’re endangering others’ lives.”
Collier says he and the fishing community are supportive of the bill but do not think the crime should be classified as a Class C misdemeanor.
“I’m not so sure whether that is strict enough,” he says. “But I do know lakes such as Monroe are known as party lakes, especially in the summer time, and there are a lot of near boating hit and misses due to alcohol and illegal drugs.”
Collier says he hopes the bill will make people think twice before using any kinds of drugs while boating.