RECKLESS or intoxicated jet-ski and speedboat drivers could face ‘more substantial’ prosecution through legislative changes due to be proposed before the end of the year.
If enacted, the proposals would amend existing maritime legislation and include the new offences of causing death or serious injury while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or through careless operation of their craft.
Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel – who has political responsibility for air and sea transport policy – said the proposals could now be brought before the States Assembly following a public consultation that indicated ‘clear’ support for the move.
The changes would also give the police and Harbourmaster the authority to require a breath test from a suspect during the course of an investigation into a serious injury or death.
Additionally, the definition of a ‘ship’ would be altered to include smaller vessels used solely for social activities on the water, such as jet-skis and smaller speedboats.
Of the 14 individuals who responded to the consultation – launched in June – the majority (85%) agreed with the draft amendment concerning the change in definition of a vessel, while 75% backed the creation of new offences.
Deputy Morel said: ‘I’d like to thank all respondents for taking the time to provide their feedback on the proposed changes.
‘I’m pleased that overall there is clear support for changes which will help keep Jersey’s waters safe by ensuring that all seafarers are more aware of their responsibilities.
‘The changes will also allow for a more substantial prosecution of someone whose careless behaviour, or consumption of alcohol or drugs while in charge of a vessel, has led to a death or serious injury.
‘We can now take the legislative process forward and bring the proposals to the States Assembly.’
In a statement, the government yesterday said that ‘the ambition is to lodge the draft amendments in the States Assembly by the end of 2023’.