A bill that would lower boating alcohol limits was received for introduction Tuesday at the Wyoming Legislature.
Current law states that a person shall not operate or be in physical control of a watercraft if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.1 percent or more.
The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, proposes lowering that percentage to 0.08 if the watercraft is a motorboat.
Brian Olsen, regional wildlife supervisor with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which enforces water safety rules throughout the state, said Friday that the bill has his full support.
“I think it is important that people understand that it is dangerous to be impaired and drive a boat,” he said. “… Alcohol and drug use has been a contributing factor in many of the most serious watercraft accidents in Wyoming over the past several years.”
Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters said he also supports lowering the boating alcohol limits.
Drivers of motor vehicles are already considered to be over the limit if they have an alcohol content level of 0.08 or more. McPheeters said he sees no reason why it would require less focus or concentration to drive a boat.
“It requires the same the ability to multitask, (to judge) what’s the grade of this curve ahead and what is the condition of the pathway,” he said.
Since there’s less law enforcement patrolling waterways than streets, McPheeters said he does believe it’s easier for boat drivers to believe it’s less serious to drive drunk on the water.
“It creates a perception that it is OK,” he said.
This is not the first time the legislature has considered lowering the boating alcohol limits. A similar bill appeared before lawmakers two years ago.
At the time, Daniel Beach of the Wyoming Game Wardens Association, asked lawmakers if they remembered the story of 6-year-old Hudson Moore.
Hudson died Aug. 3, 2014, while riding an inner tube towed by a boat. His father, Shaun Moore, was driving the boat at Keyhole Reservoir in northeastern Wyoming, Beach said.
Hudson’s father had been drinking, according to police records, but was within the legal boating limit of 0.1 percent when authorities tested his blood alcohol concentration.
“Because it wasn’t over 0.1, the district attorney and the defense raised a whole bunch of red flags,” Beach said. “… In the end, the BUI (boating under the influence) was never charged.”
Hudson’s mother, Mandy Moore, told the Star-Tribune in 2016 that she believed it was important to push for change.
“I would hate to think that somebody else would go through what we went through,” she said. “We waited so long for the criminal justice system to give us some kind of closure. That didn’t happen.”