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State bill would ban alcohol on waterways

A Nebraska state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban open containers of alcohol on the state's lakes and rivers.

"I do not think you should have open containers on a boat, particularly while it's moving," state Sen. John Harms told the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper. "There's not much difference than being in an automobile with an open container. Some of those boats go 50 to 60 miles per hour. Not only that, you are in a compressed space. I don't think you should take that risk."

Harms' measure would outlaw open containers on a "vessel, motorboat or personal watercraft ... on waters of this state."

By some estimates, one-half to two-thirds of all boating accidents in the United States are related to alcohol.

The Coast Guard said 703 boating fatalities were reported (six in Nebraska) in 2009. Of those, 165 (two in Nebraska) involved alcohol. There were 422 injuries (four in Nebraska) from alcohol-related accidents.

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