Michigan adopts tougher BUI laws

A package of stricter laws to prevent boating under the influence recently took effect in Michigan.
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A package of stricter laws to prevent boating under the influence recently took effect in Michigan.

The laws reduce the blood alcohol limit for people driving boats on Michigan waterways and provide stricter penalties for violators. The new limit has gone from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent and it matches the standard for drunken driving.

People younger than 21 may not operate a boat with any alcohol in their system.

"We want to make sure that people are operating safely," Tony Wickersham, the Macomb County sheriff, told Michigan Radio. "And if they're going to operate a vessel that they're not operating under the influence."

Wickersham said most serious boating accidents involve alcohol. The new standards also apply to snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

"The message that we're sending to our fellow citizens and to our tourists is that we take alcohol abuse seriously in these areas," said state Rep. Dave Pagel, a Republican who co-sponsored the legislation.

Pagel said there can be a tendency to put alcohol together with recreation, but he said people who are operating a boat or off-road vehicle for recreation should be subject to the same alcohol limits as if they were driving a car.

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