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New Texas boating law goes into effect this Labor Day weekend

Posted at 5:23 PM, Aug 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 18:23:17-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — This Labor Day weekend, hardly anyone will be doing any labor.

But while you're enjoying the holiday, keep in mind the new laws that will affect anyone out on the water.

This Sunday, the new mandatory "kill switch" for boat operators goes into effect.

The new law has been dubbed Kali's law; named after a young girl who was vacationing in Aransas Pass back in 2012.

“A 16-year-old girl was run over by the boat she was on and she was hit by the propeller and killed by that,” said Game Warden Lerrin Johnson.

Johnson says to help avoid something like that from happening again, anyone manning a 26-foot boat or smaller now has to wear an ignition safety kill switch.

“It must be attached to either your body or your clothing or your life jacket,” said Johnson. “If they're operating at headway speed, so that's more than idle and just enough to be able to maneuver.”

The idea behind the kill switch, is if the boat operator is thrown from the boat either to the ground or into the water, the kill switch attached to the ignition will get pulled off, cutting the power to the engine.

“So that the engine can’t run you over and the propeller run you over and kill you,” said Lerrin.

Which could save lives of people on the boat, or people who are swimming or kayaking nearby.

Because the law is new, Johnson says chances are you won't get a citation this weekend.

“People will get tickets for them eventually once we really start cracking down,” said Lerrin. “If we don't get enforcement through education.”

A citation for boating without a kill switch will be a class B misdemeanor.

Officers will also be watching for anyone manning a boat under the influence.

Charges for boating while intoxicated carry the same fines and penalties as driving while intoxicated.