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Editorial: Crack down on drunken boating

A Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau police boat

A Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau police boat cuts through the water as it operates in the Great South Bay. (July 1, 2012) Credit: Newsday/ Thomas A. Ferrara

It seems logical that driving any sort of vehicle after having a few drinks should warrant stiff penalties -- or at least instill a real fear of getting nabbed.

New York's tough laws on driving under the influence, along with stepped-up enforcement, have changed behaviors on our roads, but we haven't been as successful on our waterways.

When it comes to boating recreation, we haven't quite come to terms with how dangerous it is to have a few drinks on the open water.

And policing the area's lakes, rivers and waterways, like Long Island Sound and the Hudson River, isn't as easy as, say, setting up a checkpoint along a parkway.

We need tougher laws against boating while intoxicated -- and a tidal shift in attitudes.

Several proposals in the State Legislature, including one sponsored by Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), would be a good start. They include a mandatory suspension of boating privileges, mandatory marine safety classes and tougher charges if one's blood alcohol is 0.18 or higher, as well as felony charges for anyone driving drunk with children younger than 15 aboard.

Twelve BWI arrests on Long Island this summer and the death of a 39-year-old man, who drowned after being struck by another boater who was charged with boating while intoxicated, demonstrate the severity.

We know there is a problem on the water. Fortunately, we already have a roadmap to the solution.