Idaho Senator Seeks Clarification of Boating Safety Laws

A Senate committee agreed Idaho’s boating laws governing gross negligence are too vague and backed a measure aiming to help judges mete out appropriate punishments for mariners who put others’ lives at risk.

The bill, which cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, comes after a judge in two separate cases ruled existing law wasn’t clear.

Sen. Shawn Keough, whose northern Idaho district includes Lake Pend Oreille, contends those court decisions allowed reckless boaters to get off virtually scot-free.

The Sandpoint Republican’s bill would drop the old description of gross negligence, replacing it with a new definition that would extend to operating a boat in a manner “likely” to endanger people or property.

Keough says that would help address judges’ uncertainty.

Now, the Senate will debate whether her proposal is seaworthy.