Motorboaters will be the main target

The Department of Transport have announced they are pressing ahead with the introduction of an alcohol limit for leisure boaters.

Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman (pictured) announced today that the limit of 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood will be equivalent to that already in existence for professional mariners, and will apply “to those persons involved in the navigation of a vessel greater than 7 metres in length and/or capable of a maximum speed of more than 7 knots”.

Dr Ladyman says: “Everyone has the right to enjoy themselves on the water, but in a way that does not put others at risk. We have weighed very carefully the results of the consultation exercise and the views of all concerned – leisure sailors, enforcement authorities and accident investigators.

“I am satisfied that in bringing in an alcohol limit for non-professional mariners and in setting the exclusion limit at 7 metres and 7 knots we are providing the best balance between improving safety and avoiding unnecessary regulation.

The Department will be consulting on a set of draft regulations later in the summer.

Dr Ladyman said the regulations will not apply to PWCs: “Jetskis will not be included in the regulations for now because the Court of Appeal has ruled that jetskis are not ships and are not therefore within the scope of the existing legislation I intend to consult on extending the legislation to them in due course.”

The news is already being given a lukewarm reception by the industry and boat owners.

RYA chief executive Rod Carr says he is puzzled that ministers are acting now, three years after completing a consultation on the subject.

He asks why they did not see any need to act at the time, in August 2004, and says the RYA is not aware of any additional evidence since then to suggest that alcohol related boating incidents have become a significant problem.

Rod says: “The RYA’s view remains unchanged from that of 2004. We believe that new legislation is unnecessary because there is still no evidence of the existence of an extensive problem relating to alcohol and boating.

“However, given that the Government is intent on pressing ahead with the introduction of an alcohol limit for leisure mariners then we will work hard with the Department of Transport to ensure that sensible measures are put in place.

“There are a number of serious issues relating to the proposal, which were brought up during the consultation process, these include;
· The precise clarification of which boats will be affected and in what circumstances.
· Clarification of which persons on board boats will be affected;
· How the legislation is going enforced and by whom.

“The fact that the DfT has stated that the proposed regulations will not apply to jetskis shows how complex this issue is and the difficulties inherent in policing it.”