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Negligent boaters can be pursued civilly for damages

New York boating laws are comparable to driving laws regarding the prohibition against boating while intoxicated or impaired by either drugs or alcohol. Those convicted can face prison time, fines and suspension of the right to operate a boat.

There are civil penalties that can be imposed as well if a drunken boater's negligence causes injury or death to his passengers or others.

Below are some factors that can create safety hazards on the water.

-- Speeding. In most areas, the speed of the boat should not exceed 5 mph if the boat is within 100 feet of any piers, docks, anchored boats, floats, rafts or the shoreline. All boats must be able to stop without striking another boat or object. Boat speeds must also be slow enough that their wakes cause no property damage.

-- Overloading. Exceeding the boat's capacity reduces its performance and stability. Boats less than 21 feet long should have a capacity plate detailing the amount of weight or people the boat can safely bear.

-- Bow Riding. This practice is quite dangerous unless the boat is designed with an open bow area for passengers. In the event the boat is hit by a wave or another boat's large wake, or even during a sharp turn, the bow rider can be tossed overboard. They could then be mangled by the propeller or drown.

-- Overpowering. Installing an engine that is too large for the boat is not recommended, as the stress and weight may damage the vessel.

If you lost a loved one due to a fatal boating accident, you may attain both closure and financial compensation by filing a wrongful death suit in the New York civil court system.

Source: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation., "Boating While Intoxicated," accessed Aug. 20, 2015

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