London, February 12 (ANI): Yacht owners and canal boaters in the United Kingdom will be breathalysed, and subjected to the same drink-drive law as motorists, when the new laws come into force later this year.
They have been warned that "marine officials" will detain any sailor making unsteady progress back to shore until the police are called to administer a breath test, and that those found guilty of the offences would face a maximum fine of 5,000 pounds at a magistrate's court.
The legal drink-drive limit is 80mg per 100 millilitres of blood, and the new law will apply to an estimated two million weekend yachtsmen, canal boaters and jet-skit enthusiasts.
The rules will be relaxed for those using smaller craft, which are less than 23 feet in length and slower than seven knots.
However, those in control of smaller boats and dinghies would still face prosecution if they are found to be impaired by drink or drugs.
The move comes following concerns raised by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch that alcohol has been a factor in a number of accidents.
"The Government takes alcohol abuse at sea very seriously," the Telegraph quoted Jim Fitzpatrick, a transport minister, as saying.
"Everyone has the right to enjoy themselves on the water, but not in a way that puts others at risk," Fitzpatrick added.
He said that the decision to exempt smaller and slower craft was intended to strike a balance between improving safety, and avoiding unnecessary regulation.
The decision to introduce the new law was taken after some lobbying by the pleasure boat industry and Royal Yachting Association, who argued that the strict drink drive limits applied on land were unnecessary for slow-moving small craft on a river or lake.
"We didn't want blanket legislation. We don't believe that there is a widespread problem of alcohol afloat and were worried how this would impact on people taking boating holidays, where a glass of wine with a meal is one of the things that you do," said Howard Pridding, executive director of the British Marine Federation.
Harbour masters and other designated "marine officials" will be given the power to detain craft until a police officer arrives to carry out the breath test. (ANI)