New York lawmakers have agreed to lower the threshold for hunting drunk, a misdemeanor, to the same blood alcohol limit for driving or boating while intoxicated.
The Senate on Wednesday voted 56-5 to amend the law effective Sept. 1. That followed the Assembly’s 147-1 vote, also without floor debate, a day earlier.
Under the measure, the blood-alcohol level for drunken hunting will be 0.08 percent, down from 0.10 percent.
Hunting while intoxicated is a misdemeanor under New York’s conservation law, which cites the risk of injury and death to those hunters and others. Penalties range up to a $500 fine and a year in jail and have hunting licenses revoked for two years.
Licensed hunters who refuse to submit to a breath or other test for intoxication by conservation officers or police face having their licenses revoked.
New York’s navigation law in 2002 was amended to similarly lower the threshold for boating drunk.
“These changes were based in part on studies which determined that this level of alcohol in an individual’s bloodstream can result in substantially impaired motor skills, perception and judgment,” Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski wrote in his sponsor’s memo. “These are also critical skills used in hunting.”
He noted that several other states have recently amended their laws to set the 0.08 percent threshold, and that Connecticut and Pennsylvania have legislation pending to do the same for hunters.
“An individual who is too intoxicated to drive a car or pilot a boat is also unfit to engage in hunting and the increased risk is not only to the hunter, but to everyone else in the field,” Zebrowski, a Rockland County Democrat, wrote. “This bill would ensure a consistent standard for intoxication in state law.”