The waters around New York State, including Lake George, will be getting safer thanks to a new law. On August 6, Governor Cuomo signed Brianna’s Law into effect. The new legislation will be enacted in phases between January 1, 2020 and 2025 and will eventually require a mandatory boating safety course for all motor boat operators.
By 2025, all motor boat drivers will be required to take a state-approved course on boating safety before getting behind the wheel. The existing law states that those born after May 1, 1996 must complete the course.
Now, the age range will increase in phases over the next five years, until everyone is required to take the course. Classes will be offered both in classrooms and online, making it more convenient to meet the requirement.
“There should be a basic level of knowledge that you have before you’re given the permission to go out there and operate a boat, and making a safety course mandatory is common sense,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. “It protects the operator of the boat and everyone that operator could come into contact with, and it will make our waters safer.”
The impact of Brianna’s Law, named after an 11-year-old who was killed in a 2005 boating accident off Long Island, will be far-reaching. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is predicting that almost one million motor boat operators will be affected by this change. The requirement will apply only to motorized watercraft (sailboats, rowboats, canoes, and other small recreational boats aren’t included).
State Parks will also be involved in the initiative by promoting awareness of the course and helping ensure that everyone meets the new requirements. Those who don’t take the course by the required deadline and get behind the controls of a motorized watercraft will be fined $100 to $250.
This new law also comes in the wake of the tragic accident on Lake George in July 2016, when 8-year-old Charlotte McCue was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Since then, local officials have been advocating for stricter boating laws, including stronger BWI laws and an increase in boat-dock fees to better fund patrols and law enforcement on the lake.
In 2017, Lake George made it mandatory to take boating safety training before renting a boat at the lake, with local marinas — who had all previously offered safety programs — providing the new, standardized training. Local associations joined forces to cover the cost of the training video and informational cards used in the program.
Wondering when you’ll be required to take the state-mandated training? Here’s how the phases will roll out:
- If you were born on or after January 1, 1993, you’ll need training beginning in 2020
- On or after January 1, 1988 — beginning in 2022
- On or after January 1, 1983 — beginning in 2023
- On or after January 1, 1978 — beginning in 2024
- Prior to 1978 — beginning in 2025
Reference: Press Release, August 6, 2019, Governor Cuomo Signs Brianna’s Law to Strengthen Boater Safety.