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New Drug and Alcohol Laws

 


Attention all Boaties:   New Marine Drug and Alcohol Laws


The following article is an extract from the Department of Transport’s website. Please visit the website to read the full information:

Amendments have been made to the Western Australian Marine Act 1982 to introduce legal limits of levels of blood alcohol or illicit substances and allow drug and alcohol testing on WA waterways. On 28 November 2023, Parliament passed the Western Australian Marine Amendment Bill 2023. Under the new laws, skippers navigating a vessel are subject to the same drug and alcohol limits and penalties as those in place for WA drivers.

 

The current laws:

It is currently an offence to navigate or attempt to navigate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs while incapable of having proper control of the vessel. The penalty for this offence is a maximum fine of $1,000.

 

The new laws will be introduced in stages over the next year.

Stage one laws in effect from 21st December 2023:

  • new offences to target the unsafe operation of vessels.

 

Stage two laws introduced in 2024:

  • Department of Transport (DoT) and WA Police Force officers will be able to test skippers for drugs or alcohol,

  • legal limits on levels of blood alcohol or drugs affecting skippers navigating vessels, and

  • increased penalties for skippers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The new laws will bring WA in line with jurisdictions across Australia and deliver a consistent safety message to skippers and drivers.

 

What Vessels will the laws apply to?

The new laws will apply to all types of vessels including personal water craft, sailboats, dinghies and tenders.  The new laws will not apply to paddle craft, windsurfers, kiteboards and other types of non-motorised craft.

 

Drug and alcohol limits:

The blood alcohol content limit will be 0.05 and graduated penalties for being above this limit will align with road laws in WA, including 0.05, 0.08 and 0.15.  The drugs captured by the new laws will align to the Road Traffic Act 1974 and the Road Traffic (Drug Driving) Regulations 2007 and cover a range of substances including but not limited to:

  • cannabis;

  • ice or speed; and

  • MDMA and ecstasy.

 

Penalties:

The penalties under the new laws reflect penalties for similar offences on the road.

If you operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you face:

  • a fine up to $3,750 for a first offence; and

  • more than $7,500 and up to 18 months imprisonment for a third or subsequent offence.

If you are navigating a vessel while under the influence and cause death, you will face a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

If you are found breaking the new laws, your Recreational Skipper’s Ticket (RST) will be disqualified.

If you test above the limit for drugs or alcohol, you may also receive a notice temporarily prohibiting you from operating a vessel.

You will be directed to leave the vessel in a safe place or give control of the vessel to a WA Police or DoT officer, or suitably qualified passenger.

Under the WA Marine Act, officers have authority to deal with vessels that are a hazard or obstruction in state waters, and this may include taking a vessel into safe custody.

 

Whether you are going fishing, skiing, diving or just cruising, when you mix alcohol with boating the consequences can be fatal.

In a boat, the combination of wind, waves and the sun can all magnify the effects of alcohol and negatively impact your judgement and skills. This applies to everyone on board; the skipper and the passengers.

 

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