By Lorna Luniewski // Photo by Sean Fitzthum
On Aug. 6, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo was on Long Island to sign Brianna’s Law, which requires all operators of motorized watercraft to complete a state-approved boating safety course. Presently, only those born after May 1, 1996, are required to complete a course before operating a motor boat.
The law is named after 11-year-old Brianna Lieneck, who lost her life in 2005, due to a reckless boater who also critically injured three members of her family. As reported in this publication on June 21, 2019, by Anika Lanser in “Brianna’s Law Passes Assembly, Headed to Cuomo Next,” since the death of Brianna, her mother, Gina Lieneck, “has been fighting to implement Brianna’s Law, legislation that would require all boaters in the state of New York to complete an eighthour safety course before maneuvering their boat on the water.”
At a press conference held at Tanner Park in Copiague, Cuomo spoke of how boating has become much more popular and that our rules and laws have not kept pace with it. “What is common sense? Common sense, is to protect yourself and to protect others, there should be a basic level of knowledge that you have before you’re given the permission to go out there and operate this vehicle. That’s common sense. And this law is just common sense.”
Cuomo then introduced Gina Lieneck. She talked about how after 14 years she was proud to stand by Cuomo as he signed Brianna’s Law, noting that this can happen when good people come together to keep their community safe. She thanked the bill’s sponsors, Town of Babylon employees, and the Islip Fire Department, which responded to the accident in 2005. “Thank you everybody for all your support through the 14 years,” Lieneck said. “This is the best day, and all I can say is ‘Brianna, we did it, and I kept my promise.’”
The law will be phased in, with operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1993, required to take the course beginning in 2020; those born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, in 2022; on or after Jan. 1, 1983, by 2023; on or after Jan. 1, 1978, by 2024; and beginning in 2025, everyone will need the course regardless of age. Failure to comply may result in fines when the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
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