Gov. Henry Considers Boat DUI Law

Monday, May 25th 2009, 10:43 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Many spent the holiday weekend grilling in the backyard or splashing around on Oklahoma lakes. But Memorial Day at the lake may soon change for many boaters.

The Governor is considering a new law that limits alcohol consumption on the water. The bill would lower the legal level of intoxication for boaters to that of drivers which is .08.

T.J. Hand spent about six hours soaking up the sun and riding the waves at Lake Thunderbird this Memorial Day.

"Water's great, had a good time, had a real good time," Hand said. "Not too wavy, not too cut-up. Nobody's acting a real fool out here."

But all too often the lack of restraint from too much heavy drinking leaves a lot to be desired on the lake. That is why a new bill designed to increase the safety of boaters is getting high marks.

Senate Bill 902 would reduce the allowable level of intoxication for boat operators by two points, from .10 to .08. That's the same legal standard for drivers.

"I think it should be the same," Sen. Bill Brown (R) said. "It's still a motorized vehicle. It ought to be the exact same."

Senator Brown is a co-author of Senate Bill 902.

"We have a place on the lake and we see the things that are happening on the lake and I just felt very strongly that we needed to do something," Senator Brown said.

So does JuRobert Johnson, who has seen his share of drunks on local lakes.

"I agree with it in a way because for the safety factor," Johnson said. "If everybody was out here just slobbered drunk, we'd have quite a few wrecks."

And that's the last thing Hand, a father of three, wants to deal with.

"It'd be a good thing," Hand said. "It'd be a very good thing."

Among the other bills the Governor's considering tonight is the $7.2 billion state budget agreement. Tuesday senators will return to the Capitol to finish up business.

The House, meanwhile, has already adjourned for this session.