Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed “Tiffany Heitkamp’s” Law, which strengthens the penalties for boating while intoxicated offenses. 

The legislation makes the penalties stiffer for boating while intoxicated offense by linking them prior drinking while driving offense involving a vehicle. The bill will now require that the courts to consider prior DWI or DWAI convictions during the sentencing of someone who is charged with BWI.

In a press release, Cuomo said:

Whether behind the wheel of a car or a boat, drunk drivers are a danger to themselves and a menace to others. This new law closes this loophole and will help keep these dangerous individuals off our roads and waterways, avoiding more senseless tragedies

Under the current law, there is no link between DWI, and DWAI offenses and BWI offenses, making it impossible to convict someone as a repeat offender. This bill provides a link for these offenses and tougher penalties for repeat offenders.

The press release says “Tiffany Heitkamp” bill was named after a young Syracuse-area woman who was killed in July 2006 while traveling as a passenger in a boat operated by an intoxicated person.

The person driving the boat had alcohol-related incidents involving cars but not boats and thus could only be charged with his first BWI, according to the press release.