Stricter drunken boating laws take effect this spring
Lansing — People taking their boats out on Michigan waterways after a few drinks will be subject to stricter alcohol limits — and penalties if they’re over those limits — with a package of new laws taking effect this spring.
The drunken boating laws are among several signed in recent months that will launch new programs or have other implications for Michigan residents.
The laws regulating drunken and drugged driving were updated in 2003, and new regulations kicking in for sport craft will bring more uniformity to the limits and penalties even when not in a car.
The legal alcohol limit while operating snowmobiles, watercraft and off-road vehicles while intoxicated will be lowered to 0.08 percent from 0.1 percent to match the state’s laws for drunken driving on the road. People under 21 would not be allowed to have alcohol in their system while operating any of these sport craft, and no one would be allowed to operate them with any amount of certain controlled substances in their body.
Rep. Dave Pagel, a Republican from Berrien Springs, was one of the sponsors of the legislation along with former Reps. Matt Lori and Andrew Kandrevas.
Pagel said it is common sense to have one state standard.
“I think it sends a message that these are family activities” and people should practice them safely, said.
Here’s a look at some other laws taking effect this spring:
All of the state’s school districts and charter schools must add language addressing cyberbullying to their anti-bullying policies by the end of September. The law is an update to the 2011 Matt Epling Safe School Law. That law required school districts and charter schools to develop policies prohibiting bullying.
The update will require cyberbullying to be included in the definition of bullying and define it as any electronic communication that harms students directly or indirectly by interfering with their ability to participate in school, causes substantial emotional distress or places them in fear of physical harm.
The update also requires school districts and charter schools to annually report bullying incidents to the state Department of Education.
FUNDRAISER LICENSE PLATES
Michigan drivers will soon be able to buy license plates that serve as a fundraiser for Be the Match, a program supporting bone marrow donation and transplants. Bone marrow transplants are often used to treat various leukemias and lymphomas, and other diseases.
Drivers will also be able to purchase license plates supporting veterans. Money from those plates will go to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for its outreach efforts to local groups providing veteran services. Some money will also be put toward tuition support for members of the Michigan National Guard or the Children of Veterans Tuition Grant Program.
The plates are expected to be available in the fall. Drivers will have to pay $25, which will go to the associated funds, plus a $10 service fee for each plate.
An Entrepreneur-in-Residence project at the Michigan Strategic Fund will aim to make economic development programs and incentives more accessible. Up to 10 entrepreneurs-in-residence appointed by the Strategic Fund president will assist with improving outreach to small businesses, providing mentorship and more. The positions will not be compensated.
The search for entrepreneurs to join the project has begun. Anyone interested can reach out to the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Bears will now receive the same treatment as deer when it comes to damaging crops: If a bear is determined to cause damage, the Department of Natural Resources could issue a permit for hunting the bear outside of open season. Bear cubs and female bears with cubs less than 1 year old will be protected.