Independence Day just isn't the holiday it's meant to be for some unless boating is involved. The summers get hot, and hitting the water with an ice cold drink can be just the perfect solution to a sweaty day. Drunk boating, however, is never the answer to anything, and some lawmakers want to change laws in Alabama in order to curb alcohol-related accidents on the water.
A district attorney is pushing the Alabama Legislature to reclassify crimes involving the death of someone in a drunk boating accident. Currently, the punishment of a homicide by vessel can get a defendant up to five years in prison. The state prosecutor doesn't think that's serious enough, arguing that the crime should be reclassified and followed by more severe sentencing.
Some in the public have a hard time putting drunk driving and drunk boating accidents in the same pool of seriousness. Both are crimes that too often lead to the death of unsuspecting victims. One Alabama case involving the death of a boat passenger just came to an end. The victim died when the driver of the boat she was riding in was drunk. The victim fell from the boat and was killed by its propeller. That defendant will face a maximum of five years in prison but could serve as little as one.
With regards to consequences that a drunk driver faces, it shouldn't make a difference whether an alcohol-related accident occurs on the water or on the streets of Alabama, argues the district attorney. He wants the maximum criminal sentence in homicide by vessel cases to be 10 years instead of five.
Even if that were to become the new law, the families of fatal accident victims will still have to live with the entirely preventable loss of their loved ones. When criminal consequences don't feel like enough, it can be a source of closure and needed financial support for families to move forward with their own legal battles in civil court.
Source: The Montgomery Advertiser, "DA: Get tough on Alabama's drunk boating laws," Marty Roney, July 1, 2012