MP drafting Bill on alcohol and boat use

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds. Photo: Luisa Girao
Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds. Photo: Luisa Girao
Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds is drafting a member’s Bill to promote legislation prohibiting people from operating recreational boats while impaired by alcohol.

Her announcement yesterday comes after a coroner’s report into the death of Southland man Shane David Gibbon was released on Thursday.

Mr Gibbons was a passenger on a boat, driven by Paul Turner, when it hit a gravel bar on the Hollyford River on March, 2019.

Mr Turner had a blood sample taken on the morning after the crash which contained 74mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. ESR estimated his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash would have been between 130mg and 195mg per 100ml of blood. The legal limit for driving on the road is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

In her findings, coroner Sue Johnson recommended the Ministry of Transport investigate introducing legislation or rules around operating boats after consuming alcohol or drugs.

The ministry responded to the recommendation, advising the law already allowed conviction of someone who operated any vessel in a dangerous manner.

Ms Simmonds said she supported the call for the introduction of legislation.

“I am currently drafting a private member’s Bill on this issue and support a similar call from the coroner, in the wake of a boating tragedy on the Hollyford River in March 2019.

“Too many lives have been lost and too many families left in despair as a result of boating accidents.’’

Ms Simmonds said she had been listening to the pleas of another Southland boating widow who reiterated concerns about the culture of drinking and boating.

“As recreational craft get faster and more powerful, and boating grows in popularity, I think the time is right to have a closer look at the regulations and safety rules around water activities and alcohol.

“I think it’s time for the Transport Ministry to review this issue, with my member’s Bill promoting changes in the law around people impaired by alcohol from operating recreational boats,” she said.

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