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Boat Owners Need to Know about Brianna’s Law

May 25, 2020

The death of an 11-year-old girl in a boating accident back in 2005 was the inspiration for a new law advancing boater safety in New York State. Brianna’s Law is named after Brianna Lieneck, a girl from Long Island who died when another boat smashed into her family’s cabin cruiser.

The new law directly impacts most people operating a motor-powered boat in our state, so we encourage owners and operators to bone up on the new law.

Who the New Law Covers

As explained on the Parks and Recreations website, New York does not require that people have a license to operate a personal recreational boat. However, you will need a boating safety certificate. You also need this certificate if you operate personal watercraft like jet skis.

Those who rent a motorboat from a livery do not need a certificate. Neither do those who operate kayaks, sailboats, canoes, rowboats, and standup paddleboards, so long as this watercraft does not have a motor. But if any of these crafts are motorized, then you need to take the safety class.

What Boaters Can Expect

The boating safety course will be an 8-hour class that can be completed in a single day. The course can be taken in person or online, which is extraordinarily convenient. The online option means that all boaters should have access to it, either using their home internet or the internet at the local library. You can find a list of providers by visiting the Parks and Recreations website.


The new law is being phased in over the space of five years based on the operator’s age. This should be more than enough time for boat owners and operators to meet the safety requirements:

  • Those born after January 1, 1993: complete safety course beginning in 2020.
  • Those born after January 1, 1988: complete course by 2022.
  • Those born after January 1, 1983: complete course by 2023.
  • Those born after January 1, 1978: complete course by 2024.
  • All others must complete the safety course by the start of 2025.

If an operator has not completed the necessary safety course, then he or she could be fined $100-250 for each violation beginning on January 1, 2020. There is really no reason to delay.

How this Boater Safety Class Affects Personal Injury Suits

If you are involved in a collision, then a question arises whether you operated your vessel with adequate care. Anyone who has been negligent can be ordered to pay compensation to other parties. If you were injured, your own negligence can reduce the amount of compensation you receive, too.

A person who has not completed the required boater safety course has hurt their ability to defend themselves in a personal injury lawsuit. A reasonable person could conclude that you lack the skill to operate their vessel safely, and this could make you liable for compensation in the event of a collision.

Contact a New York City Boat Accident Lawyer to Review

Boat accidents are often just as serious as collisions on the road. If you were harmed in a crash, please contact Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman today. Our lawyers are meeting with people who call 212-285-3300 or who fill out our contact form.


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