Legislators move to boost penalties for drunken boating, driving

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(Host) Vermont legislators are moving to boost penalties for drunken driving or drunken boating.

Lawmakers say they’re responding to a pair of Vermont Supreme Court cases.

Those decisions limited penalties in cases where passengers in a boat or car were killed or seriously injured.

The court says current state law allows only one count against a driver or boat operator even if more than one person was injured or killed.

Representative Willem Jewett of Ripton says the court invited lawmakers to clarify how to deal with someone responsible for serious drunken accidents.

(Jewett) "If one person is killed or injured is that the same as where five or two or some larger number are killed or injured?"

(Host) The House Judiciary Committee recommended that separate charges were appropriate for multiple deaths or injuries.

The House agreed with that approach earlier today. It gave preliminary approval to a bill that would permit prosecutors to file multiple charges in the most serious cases.

The change in law was prompted by a boating accident on Lake Champlain in which two children were killed.

A Charlotte man was convicted of drunken boating, but one of the convictions was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

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