To the family of a person who has been killed by a drunk driver, it really doesn't matter if the perpetrator was driving an automobile or operating a speedboat.
Through an unfortunate tragedy we have recently learned that the law does make this distinction.
Five people were killed, and three others injured, when Virl Earles smashed his speedboat into a concrete mooring buoy in Anaheim Bay last October. The evidence presented at his recent preliminary hearing in West Orange County Municipal Court indicated that his blood alcohol level was .11% at the time of the accident.
Herein lies the problem. A provision of the California Vehicle Code makes it a crime to operate an automobile with a blood alcohol level of .10%. This law was enacted due to the great weight of scientific evidence that the judgment of everyone, including the most alcohol-tolerant individual, is impaired before reaching this level of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, there isn't a corresponding statute in our Harbors and Navigation Code. We at MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) think there ought to be, and will support efforts to pass remedial legislation to fill this obvious gap in our laws.
PAUL S. ROBBINS
Board of Advisers
Orange County Chapter
Mothers Against Drunk Driving