Bipartisan package a response to tragic death of 7-year-old boy
LANSING — A bipartisan package of bills that makes boating, snowmobiling and use of other recreational vehicles safer was approved by the Michigan House of Representatives and sent to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
The measures, House Bills 4441, 4442, 4443 and 4445, lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level for boaters, snowmobilers and off-road vehicle operators from 0.10 to 0.08, the same level as operators of motor vehicles. The legislation was introduced by state Reps. Matt Lori, Dave Pagel and Andrew J. Kandrevas.
“These important reforms have been in the works for the past four legislative sessions, and I am elated that we have finally put operators of recreational vehicles on the same level of responsibility as drivers of cars and trucks,” said Lori, R-Constantine. “I believe these measures will make activities on lakes, snowmobile trails and ORV paths much safer and more enjoyable.”
Pagel, R-Oronoko Township, introduced HB 4443, setting the BAC for snowmobilers. He said the legislation will protect Michigan families.
“Boating sports and riding ATVs and snowmobiles are great family activities, and we live in an especially wonderful state in which to enjoy them,” Pagel said. “But more often than not, innocent people and children are harmed in these tragic drunken sporting accidents. If you are legally too drunk to drive a car, you should not be allowed to operate other powerful vehicles; the logic is simple.”
Kandrevas, D-Southgate, sponsor of HB 4445 dealing with off-road vehicles, said he appreciated the bipartisan cooperation in getting the legislation through the House and Senate.
“Many years of diligent work went into this legislation, and it was a bipartisan effort the whole way,” Kandrevas said. “These common-sense bills ensure safer waterways and trails, and I’m proud to have played a role in keeping our natural resources safe and enjoyable for all Michigan residents.”
Victor Fitz, president of the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association and Cass County prosecutor, has been working with lawmakers on the legislation since 2005.
“This synchronization of our operating-while-intoxicated laws makes perfect sense. Now responsible boaters, snowmobilers and ORV operators will have the same protection as those using the highways,” Fitz said. “And Michigan citizens will be safer while enjoying these recreational activities. For the family of Ryan Zielinski and others similarly situated, this law makes special sense.”
Fitz was referring to the 7-year-old who was killed while tubing on Donnell Lake in Cass County in 2005. The personal watercraft operator who ran over the child’s tube had a BAC that would have gotten him arrested for drunken driving if he were operating a motor vehicle. County officials were unable to prosecute the watercraft driver as severely as they would have been able to if he were driving a car.
“Prosecutors, law enforcement and Michiganders thank Matt Lori and the many bipartisan supporters of this long-awaited change,” Fitz said.
Please let me know how I can be of assistance to you so that together, we can continue to make progress in our community.
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Lansing, MI 48909-7514
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I’m State Representative Andrew J. Kandrevas, and I serve Michigan’s 13th House District.
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State Representative Andrew J. Kandrevas
13th House District