Boating organisation says the consultation is "misguided" and backed up with flawed evidence

The RYA has hit out at the Department for Transport’s consultation on drink boating, describing it as “misguided”.

The consultation, released on Wednesday , is seeking opinion on whether boats less than 7m long and with a design speed not exceeding 7 knots should be included in drink boating legislation expected to be enacted later this year.

But Gus Lewis, the RYA’s government and legal affairs advisor, accuses the consultation of being badly drafted and lacking clarity.

“First and foremost, the RYA does not condone being drunk whilst in charge of a boat. The RYA also supports the DfT’s proposals to exempt certain craft from the application of the legislation,” he said.

“However, the RYA believes that the DfT’s proposals are badly drafted in that few, if any, boaters are likely to be aware of the theoretical ‘maximum design speed’ of their craft. We want to make sure that any new rules are clear, sensible and readily understandable.

“Given the uncertainty as to who on board a vessel is likely to be subject to the prescribed alcohol limits, in our view it is all the more important that the exemption is clearly defined.”

The RYA also charges the DfT with using unreliable statistical evidence to back up its case for the need for alcohol limits for leisure boaters.

In the consultation document, the DfT cites a report that suggests a “significant proportion of drowning cases and hospital admissions relating to water-related transport are alcohol-related”.

But on closer examination, the RYA discovered that the actual report states that “no recent studies had examined the association between alcohol consumption and ? water transport accidents ? [or] drowning” and the authors of the report estimate statistics based on research conducted over 12 years ago in Australia and Canada.

There is no recent UK-based research regarding alcohol-related deaths at sea or on inland waters; in fact the UK has a strong track record in boating safety, the RYA said, adding that alcohol limits for recreational boaters are unnecessary because there is still no evidence of the existence of an extensive problem relating to alcohol and boating.