A law to test boating enthusiasts for their level of
intoxication on waterways should be made New Zealand-wide,
Queenstown Lakes harbourmaster Marty Black says.
Mr Black's comments came yesterday after the jet-boat driven
by two Queenstown men, who had been drinking, hit rocks near
the Kawarau Falls Bridge at Frankton, on Friday, about
The harbourmaster was joined by Coastguard Queenstown,
police, Frankton and Queenstown volunteer fire brigades, St
John Queenstown and a rescue helicopter in a major search and
rescue operation when the initial report was there were more
than two people in the water in distress.
The pair were found by the coastguard at 11.24pm, about 100m
downstream of the bridge. The boat had some damage, but the
two men were uninjured.
The men were tested by police on site and Mr Black said one
registered 690mcg and the other was also over the legal limit
The men were warned by police not to drive. However, they
were later stopped on Kingston Rd, one of the men behind the
wheel and their boat on a trailer behind them.
A 28-year-old man was processed for driving with a
breath-alcohol level of 502mcg at 12.15am.
''We can't actually do a lot on this, because it's not only
our own bylaws, it's also the Maritime rule part 91, to say
you're not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but
there's no routine testing, so therein lies a fairly major
problem,'' Mr Black said.
''While there's an instant fine of $500 for driving [a boat]
under the influence, there's no test, as such.''
The issue of testing came to the fore when the national
Pleasure Boat Safety Forum wrote to the transport minister
about five years ago, but nothing happened, he said.
''Boating is the last bastion where you can probably drink
till you're drunk and the chances of getting picked up for a
misdemeanour, with the exception of Queenstown and a couple
of areas, are remote.''
Mr Black said he was aware some groups went boating with ''as
much booze as fuel - that's ridiculous''.
''If it's a hot day and you're sitting somewhere, have a
beer. No problem at all. But if you're over 400mcg, you've
had a few.
''You're not allowed to drive on the road like that, so why
should you on the water?
''If you're on the water and something goes wrong, you don't
just stop the car, or hit a tree and it stops you. You're in
the water and you're dead - simple as that.''