Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

August 06, 2019

Governor Signs Brianna's Law to Strengthen Boater Safety

By 2025, Requires all Operators of Power Boats to Take Safety Course

Five-Year Phase-in Applies to Motorized Watercraft

State Parks to Launch Boating Safety Promotional Campaign

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.5685/A.4853.A) - or Brianna's Law - to phase in requirements that all operators of motorized watercraft must complete a state-approved boating safety course. Brianna's Law is named after Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old Long Island girl who was killed in a 2005 boating accident. The Governor also directed State Parks to launch a boating safety promotional campaign to remind boaters of the new requirement to take a safety course.

"Boating has become much more popular and our rules and our laws really have not kept pace with it," Governor Cuomo said. "There should be a basic level of knowledge that you have before you're given the permission to go out there and operate a boat, and making a safety course mandatory is common sense. It protects the operator of the boat and everyone that operator could come into contact with, and it will make our waters safer. It took a horrific accident to make this situation real for people, but through this law Brianna is saving lives and her love lives on."

The measure expands an earlier law signed by Governor Cuomo that requires boaters born after May 1, 1996 to complete a safety course before operating a motorized watercraft. Under the phase-in, all motor boat operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 must complete a safety course to operate a motor boat beginning in 2020. Those born after Jan. 1, 1988 must complete a safety course beginning in 2022. Those born on or after Jan. 1, 1983 must complete a safety course beginning in 2023. Those born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 must complete a safety course beginning in 2024. The requirement would extend to all motor boat operators beginning in 2025, regardless of age. Failure to comply could result in a fine of between $100 and $250 under the new law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which administers the law, estimates that there are nearly one million boaters who will have to take the safety courses before the end of the phase-in on Jan. 1, 2025.

Governor Cuomo also directed State Parks to launch a boating safety promotional campaign to ensure that boaters are aware of the new requirement to take a course online or in person and to promote safety on our waterways, including radio and social media advertisements; distribution of informational materials to law enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard, marinas, boating education instructors and boating safety partners; and State Parks website updates.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "New York State offers some of the best boating and fishing adventures in the country. The best way to enjoy these adventures is to do so safely. It makes sense that for every boater to learn the basics of boating safety before operating a motor boat.

Senator John E. Brooks said, "I am very pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed this important bill into law and I would like to compliment Gina Lienek on her tireless efforts in getting this legislation passed. We must all recognize how critically important boating safety is to our waterways and I am confident that the training associated with this law will save lives. I applaud Governor Cuomo's leadership in making NY safer and thank him for his efforts in continuing to make Long Island's beaches and waterways the safe family recreation destinations they should be."

Senator Phil Boyle said, "With Governor Cuomo's signature today, Brianna's Law will begin to make our waterways safer. We thank Gina and the Lieneck Family for never giving up in their long and difficult fight to require boating safety courses in New York."

Assembly Member Kimberly Jean-Pierre said, "Boating is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy Long Island's beautiful natural resources, but tragically, we've seen far too many accidents that could have been avoided with proper safety education. Brianna's Law, named after Long Island's own Brianna Lieneck who lost her life in a boating accident in 2005, will help prevent future tragedies by requiring that all boaters know how to handle their vessels safety and how to act in emergency situations. I fought hard for this crucial legislation, and I want to thank the governor for helping protect our families by signing it into law."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "It's critical that our waterways are safe from dangerous and reckless boating, and this law will ensure anyone operating a motorized watercraft has the proper training to navigate the waters safely. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this important legislation and honoring the life of Brianna Lieneck."

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this historic legislation into law. We must protect our waterways the same way we protect our roads. We have over 40,000 recreational boats registered in Nassau, in addition to busy commercial fishing traffic. Nassau will continue to enforce navigational laws and safety regulations to protect residents from avoidable tragedies. This common-sense law will save lives. It will help keep the boating public and their passengers safe by requiring operators to know and obey the navigation laws and related safety procedures. Thank you to Senator John Brooks, Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre and all those who worked to get Brianna's Law across the finish line. I want to especially thank Gina Lieneck, the mother of Brianna Lieneck, for her tireless fight to ensure that her daughter's life was not lost in vain."

The law allows for the continued acceptance of State Parks approved internet-based learning and certification to meet this new demand. Classroom courses will also continue to be available. Information about both internet and in-classroom courses can be foundon the State Parks' website.

There are nearly 439,000 registered powerboats in the state, according to the 2018 state Recreational Boating Report.

The law does not apply to operators of sailboats, kayaks, standup paddleboards, rowboats or canoes.