Boating While Intoxicated in NJ

Boat DWIThroughout the year, countless residents and tourists from neighboring states such as New York and Pennsylvania flock to the oceans, rivers and bays of the Jersey Shore.  Sailboats, jet skis and fishing charters are a natural part of the landscape from Sandy Hook to Cape May, especially during the summer months.  Although the busy tourist season is critical to the Jersey Shore’s economy, an increase in water activities inevitably leads to an increase in accidents, especially when alcohol is readily available through many of the local eateries and liquor stores.

The waterways along the shore are heavily patrolled by the New Jersey State Police and the United States Coast Guard, who will arrest any individual suspected of boating while intoxicated (BWI).  Also known as boating under the influence, this offense pertains to the act of operating a boat or other vessel on any waterway while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more.  In addition, you can be charged with refusal under the state’s implied consent law if you refuse breath sample testing.

Losing Your Boating License for Boating While Intoxicated in NJ

It’s essential to note that if you are convicted of boating while under the influence or refusal, you will lose both your boating and driving privileges.  Similar to an ordinary DWI on road, the length of your license suspension depends on your BAC reading; for a first offense BWI with a BAC less than 0.10%, your driving privileges will be suspended for 3 months.  If your BAC is over 0.10%, you will lose your driver’s license for 7 to 12 months.  You will also lose your New Jersey boater’s license for at least 1 year, be mandated to pay multiple fines and surcharges, and face possible time in jail.

Over the past few years, NJ State Police have increased their efforts to arrest BWI offenders under the national “Operation Dry Water” campaign.  Police are especially focused on underage BWI’s, which pertain to offenders under the legal drinking age of 21.  Since boating licenses can be issued to individuals as young as 16, there is a high incident rate of boating while intoxicated in NJ among teens on jet skis and other personal watercrafts.

Regardless of your age, numerous tragic incidents along the Jersey Shore have proven that alcohol seriously impairs your ability to operate a boat.  One of the worst accidents in recent years occurred in July 2011, when two boats plowed into each other in the Navesink River.  The collision resulted in the death of a Keansburg man.  The man at fault was charged with numerous other offenses, including operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, failure to maintain proper lookout, and operating a vessel without a boating safety certificate.  In 2013, he was indicted on second-degree vehicular homicide, for which he will receive the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA).

Charged with Boating While Intoxicated in NJ?

If you have been arrested on a charge of boating while intoxicated in NJ, you must speak to an experienced BWI lawyer right away.  Partner Carmine R. Villani, Esq. of Villani & DeLuca has over two decades of experience in representing DWI and BWI clients along the Jersey Shore.  Mr. Villani has been trained on Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) methods and the Alcotest 7110, the breathalyzer device used by the New Jersey State Police in all DWI and BWI cases.  He has the experience needed to give you effective representation against your charges.  Please call (732) 965-3350 to schedule a free consultation with Mr. Villani.