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Newly Signed NY Boat Safety Law Honors Memory Of 11-Year-Old Girl

Gov. Cuomo signs legislation - or Brianna's Law - to phase in requirements that all operators of motorized watercraft must complete a state-approved boating safety course. Photo Credit: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Cuomo signs legislation - or Brianna's Law - to phase in requirements that all operators of motorized watercraft must complete a state-approved boating safety course.
Gov. Cuomo signs legislation - or Brianna's Law - to phase in requirements that all operators of motorized watercraft must complete a state-approved boating safety course. Video Credit: NYGovCuomo

New legislation has been signed into law improving boating safety in honor of an 11-year-old girl who died in a 2005 accident.

Brianna’s Law was signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week, which will phase in requirements that all operators of watercraft must complete a state-approved boating safety course.

The law is named after 11-year-old Brianna Lieneck, of Deer Park in Suffolk County who died off the coast of Long Island when her family’s boat was struck by another vessel at around 9 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2005, in the Great South Bay.

“(This law) protects the operator of the boat and everyone that operator could come into contact with, and it will make our waters safer,” Cuomo said. “It took a horrific accident to make this situation real for people, but through this law, Brianna is saving lives and her love lives on.”

Under the new law, anyone operating a watercraft who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 must complete a safety course beginning in 2020. Those born after Jan. 1, 1988, must complete one before 2022.

Failure to comply with the law could result in a fine of between $100 to $250. The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which administers the law, estimates that there are nearly one million boaters who will have to take the safety courses before the end of the phase-in on Jan. 1, 2025.

"Boating has become much more popular and our rules and our laws really have not kept pace with it," Cuomo said. "There should be a basic level of knowledge that you have before you're given the permission to go out there and operate a boat, and making a safety course mandatory is common sense.

Assembly Member Kimberly Jean-Pierre stated, "boating is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy Long Island's beautiful natural resources, but tragically, we've seen far too many accidents that could have been avoided with proper safety education.

“Brianna's Law, named after Long Island's own Brianna Lieneck who lost her life in a boating accident in 2005, will help prevent future tragedies by requiring that all boaters know how to handle their vessels safety and how to act in emergency situations.” 

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