Legislation sponsored by the 10th District legislators, Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin, which establishes criminal penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident was signed into law by Governor Christie at a public bill signing in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.
Gov. Chris Christie signing into law legislation sponsored by Sen. Jim Holzapfel (2nd from right), Asm. Dave Wolfe (center-right) and Asm. Greg McGuckin (center-left) increasing penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident in Point Pleasant on July 3, 2014. (SenateNJ.com)
“Safety is always our first concern with more boaters on our waterways each year. This legislation will give law enforcement the authority needed to prosecute those reckless enough to leave the scene of an accident without assisting the passengers of the other vessel,” said Senator Holzapfel.
The legislation, S-846/A-2725, is modeled after current motor vehicle law, which makes it a second degree crime to leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident that results in the death of a passenger, and a third degree crime when the accident results in serious bodily injury.
A second degree crime is punishable by five to ten years imprisonment, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. A crime of the third degree is punishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. Also, included in the bill are increased penalties for failure of the operator to provide assistance to anyone involved in an accident.
“Boating accidents can lead to serious injuries or death and this legislation give some teeth to the law and allows for harsher punishments for those who leave the scene,” said Assemblyman Wolfe. “With the summer months approaching, our residents need to take precaution when piloting the local waterways and understand that safety is our main concern.”
This legislation was introduced in response to a 2008 boating accident in Ocean County where the operator of the boat left the scene of the accident that caused the death of one person and injured two others.
In that incident, a 27-foot Imperial speed boat operated by Anthony DiGilio ran over the top of a 16 1/2-foot Boston Whaler on the Metedeconk River, killing Robert Post. DiGilio fled the scene in his boat and did not call authorities.
“Boaters are responsible for their craft and searching for other injured parties if an accident should occur. This bill will strengthen the boating laws in New Jersey to ensure that the crimes of negligent boaters will no longer go unrecognized,” added Assemblyman McGuckin.