CONCORD, NC (WWAY) – There will soon be much tougher penalties in North Carolina for anyone who drinks, operates a boat and then causes an accident.
Gov. Pat McCrory signed Sheyenne’s law on Monday making the penalties for drunk boaters who cause injuries or fatalities similar to those that drivers receive, according to a release from the governor’s office.
House bill 958 was named in honor of Sheyenne Marshall, a rising senior, killed by a drunk boater on Lake Norman. WSOC-TV reported that police said the 17-year old was knee-boarding around 8 p.m. on July 4, 2015, when a boat hit and killed her.
Sheyenne Marshall’s family, students, and teachers joined McCrory at Cox Mill High School in Concord as he put his name on the legislation.
“I want you to take this message to the campuses that you’re moving onto from here and don’t repeat the mistakes being made by adults and kids on boats,” McCrory said.
Right now, the penalty for driving a boat while impaired is a misdemeanor with a minimum $250 fine. Beginning Dec. 1, however, death by impaired boating will be a felony punishable by several years in prison.
At least seven of the 24 fatal boating accidents in 2015 involved alcohol according to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.