Gov. Cuomo signed legislation last week known as Brianna’s Law that will phase in requirements that all operators of motorized watercraft complete a state-approved boating safety course.
Brianna’s Law is named after Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old Long Island girl who was killed in a 2005 boating accident. The governor also directed State Parks to launch a boating safety promotional campaign to remind boaters of the new requirement to take a safety course.
“Boating has become much more popular and our rules and our laws really have not kept pace with it,” Cuomo said. “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. It protects the operator of the boat and everyone that operator could come into contact with, and it will make our waters safer. It took a horrific accident to make this situation real for people, but through this law Brianna is saving lives and her love lives on.”
The measure expands an earlier law signed by Cuomo that requires boaters born after May 1, 1996 to complete a safety course before operating a motorized watercraft. Under the phase-in, all motorboat operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 must complete a safety course to operate a motorboat beginning in 2020. Those born after Jan. 1, 1988 must complete a safety course beginning in 2022. Those born on or after Jan. 1, 1983 must complete a safety course beginning in 2023. Those born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 must complete a safety course beginning in 2024. The requirement would extend to all motorboat operators beginning in 2025, regardless of age. Failure to comply could result in a fine of between $100 and $250 under the new law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which administers the law, estimates that there are nearly one million boaters who will have to take the safety course before the end of the phase-in on Jan. 1, 2025.
Cuomo also directed State Parks to launch a boating safety promotional campaign to ensure that boaters are aware of the new requirement to take a course online or in person and to promote safety on our waterways, including radio and social media advertisements; distribution of informational materials to law enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard, marinas, boating education instructors and boating safety partners; and State Parks website updates.
“New York State offers some of the best boating and fishing adventures in the country,” said Erik Kulleseid, State Parks commissioner. “The best way to enjoy these adventures is to do so safely. It makes sense that for every boater to learn the basics of boating safety before operating a motorboat.”