Assembly Passes Brianna's Law to Require Boating Safety & Make New York's Waterways a Safer Place

Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre today announced Assembly passage of Brianna’s Law, expanding requirements for boating safety classes and making New York’s waterways safer (A.4853-A, Jean-Pierre).

“Summer is coming, and more and more New Yorkers are heading to our lakes, rivers and waterways,” Speaker Heastie said. “Requiring boaters to take safety classes before heading out on the water will help save lives and prevent accidents from Lake Erie to the Long Island Sound.”

“Accidents happen whether on land or on water, but having knowledge of boating safety and navigation laws will help keep those from turning deadly,” Assemblymember Jean-Pierre said. “I’m so proud to have introduced Brianna’s Law because it will save lives by truly making New York’s waterways safer.”

In New York State there are approximately 450,000 registered powerboats. Under current law, new boat owners are exempt from the requirement to complete a safety course for up to 120 days after the purchase of a vessel, and the requirement only applies for operators born after May 1, 1996. As the majority of boat owners in the state are much older, this has created a gap in the number of boaters who receive these important safety courses.

Today’s legislation closes this gap, and is named for Brianna Lieneck, an 11 year old girl who was fatally injured in a boating collision off the coast of Long Island. Brianna’s Law would require any individual who operates a mechanically propelled vessel in New York State navigable waters to complete a boating safety course approved by the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The course provides training on boat handling, use of navigation instruments and floatation devices, as well as relevant state laws concerning boating operation and safety. There is a five-year phase-in to allow boat operators adequate time to comply with this new requirement.