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Old 05-15-2013, 07:49 AM
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Default Bills aim to improve safety for boaters, off-road enthusiasts

A package of bills aiming to improve safety for boaters, snowmobilers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts were approved Wednesday by the Michigan state House Criminal Justice Committee.

Another bill that funds Crime Stoppers, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Lori, also was approved by the panel and sent to the House for a vote.

House Bills 4441 to 4444 would lower the blood-alcohol content from the current 0.10 to 0.08 for operators of boats, off-road vehicles and snowmobiles. The change puts operators of recreational vehicles on the same level that classifies automobile drivers as being legally intoxicated, and allows for increased sentencing guidelines.

Lori's bills, HBs 4441 and 4442, deal specifically with watercraft. The others are sponsored by state Rep. Dave Pagel, R-Oronoko Township.

Lori's boating bill stems from a 2005 incident on Donnell Lake in Cass County in which 7-year-old Ryan Zielinski was killed when a personal watercraft operator ran over the child's tube. The driver of the watercraft had a blood-alcohol content that would have gotten him arrested for drunken driving if he was operating a motor vehicle. County officials were unable to prosecute the watercraft driver as severely as they could if he had been driving a car..
"This is a matter of taking responsibility when operating vehicles that can maim or kill someone else," Lori said. "We want people to relax and enjoy themselves on our lakes and trails, but not to the point where they lose control and hurt themselves or someone else."

The bills now go to the full House for consideration.
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