Flawed statute sinks another boating charge

Print Article

SANDPOINT — A judge has scuttled a negligent boating charge against a Sandpoint man, but several other criminal charges stemming from a crash on Lake Pend Oreille remain afloat.

Jonathan Richard Beckley is scheduled to be tried on the remaining counts in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Feb. 21. He is pleading not guilty.

Beckley’s counsel, Deputy Public Defender Susie Jensen, moved to dismiss the grossly negligent operation of a vessel charge in the wake of a judge’s ruling that the statute was unconstitutionally vague.

That ruling was issued in a negligent operation case against a Seattle man who crashed his powerboat into an anchored cabin cruiser at Priest Lake last July. Sandpoint attorney Bryce Powell successfully argued that the charge against his client, Todd Frederick Stauber, should be dismissed because the statute is so vague that even lawful conduct at the helm could be considered prohibited.

Judge Debra Heise agreed and dismissed Stauber’s case last month.

Idaho’s negligent operations statute makes it a crime to operate the vessel in a manner which endangers persons or property. The language in the statute is strikingly similar to the state’s former negligent driving statute, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Idaho Supreme Court in 1958.

The negligent driving statute was later amended, but lawmakers inexplicably used its substandard language when drafting the negligent boating statute in the early 1980s.

Beckley, 37, is accused of crashing a powerboat into an unoccupied sailboat that was moored at Lake Pend Oreille’s Ellisport Bay last August. Three people, including a 4-year-old child, were aboard Beckley’s vessel.

In addition to the negligent operation charge, Beckley was further charged with child endangerment and three violations of the Idaho Safe Boating Act.

Heise dismissed the negligent operations charge on Feb. 14, court records indicate.

Prior to the Ellisport Bay crash, Beckley was charged with negligent operation after allegedly driving recklessly through a no-wake zone encircling Warren Island and hitting a marker buoy last June. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of speeding and was fined $67, according to the Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository.

Print Article

Read More News

Fish and Game offering wolf trapping classes

September 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Anyone interested in trapping wolves in Idaho must pass a wolf trapping certification program offered by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Two classes are set for Coeur d’Alene this month. The ...

Comments

Read More

Mapping out the forests of North Idaho

September 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Allen Scott is a map guy. He likes the feel of the paper under his finger as he follows a contour line on a topographic map. Lines bunched together show steep terrain. He knows that. When he sees li...

Comments

Read More

Couple accused of killing Travis Gillett arraigned Sept. 18

September 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Western News An Idaho couple was arraigned on Monday, Sept. 18 in Lincoln County 19th Judicial District Court on charges of deliberate homicide, a felony, or in the alternative deliberate homicide by accountabili...

Comments

Read More

Confidence is key for women in aviation

September 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — The Golden Age of Aviation was the foundation for pilots today, particularly for women. There were a lot of "firsts," said licensed counselor and aviator Christina Tindle. Ever...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2017 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X