Harsher penalties for boating while impaired could come to NC

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WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Harsher penalties for boating while impaired may be coming to North Carolina.

Hollie Marchisello and her husband, Tom, said their boat is their second home. They stress safety is key.

“This is not a toy. Bad things can happen. People can get killed or injured. So there’s no room for drinking and being a captain,” said Hollie.

But not everyone takes boating as seriously.

Rick Brass is the dockmaster at the Washington Waterfront. He says boating while impaired is too common.

“People that are responsible for enforcement will bring boaters who have over indulged and have been arrested. They’ll come in here and transfer them to a sheriff’s car and take them down to jail. That happens several times every summer,” said Brass.

Under current law in North Carolina, boating while impaired can only be a misdemeanor. Now, a new proposed bill could make it a felony.

“We’ve seen people that have come in too fast and run their boats up over the dock and broken parts off of the boat, we see people who have over indulged and will try and stop the boat by sticking out their hands or their feet,” said Brass.

Last Summer, Sheyenne Marshall died in a boating accident near Charlotte. Her family is lobbying for a change with Bill 958. It would create felony charges for impaired boaters who cause death or serious injury.

“There should be stiffer penalties for people who drink and ride boats,” said Glandene Benton, a resident of NC.

Many people 9 On Your Side spoke to said stricter penalties are needed.

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