N.J. considers tougher penalties for boaters who flee accident scene

 Bonnie Post urges New Jersey lawmakers to enact a measure calling for tougher penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Bonnie Post urges New Jersey lawmakers to enact a measure calling for tougher penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would toughen the penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident.

The bill comes in response to crash on the Barnegat Bay in 2008 when a speedboat hit another vessel.

Bonnie Post’s husband was killed that day. She’s hoping increased penalties will be a deterrent.

“The man that hit us and left us to drown, he got a $25 fine and that was it,” she said Tuesday. “I’m not sure that’s any incentive for him to never do that again.”

Unlike a car crash that could be noticed by other motorists, Post says it can take a long time to get help on the water.

Current New Jersey law does not provide specific punishment for failing to report a boating accident.

The bill advanced by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee would make it a third-degree crime with up to five years in prison. Leaving an accident that resulted in death would be punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.