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Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) in New Jersey

Beware of Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) at the Jersey Shore

Boat DWI
During the summer months, attention is directed toward the actions of boaters operating on local waterways in New Jersey.  It seems that boaters who spend a day out on the water or who travel from bar to bar do not see the dangers of operating their boat while drinking alcohol.  According to experts, the fatigue of boating heightens the effect of alcohol on the body.  The sun, constant vibration and motion on the water leaves the body more vulnerable and less capable of operating a boat when under the influence of alcohol.  The use of alcohol is involved in about one third of all recreational boating deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety Division.  Choosing to operate a boat on New Jersey waters can lead to a charge of boating while intoxicated, also known as BWI or BUI.

The Effects of Drinking While Boating

Operating a boat or other watercraft is not an easy task.  To safely operate a boat, the driver needs to have such skills as good peripheral vision, balance, judgment and sometimes the ability to see well at night.  Drinking alcohol or taking illegal or prescription drugs will affect these necessary skills and could cause harm for the boat's passengers and others on the water trying to enjoy their summer on the shore.  If your boat is involved in an accident, your inner ear may be affected by the alcohol, making it difficult for you to know up from down if you fall into the water, putting you at risk of drowning.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a boat operator is likely to become impaired faster than an automobile driver drinking the same exact amount.  Consider that fact before imbibing in alcohol and sitting in the captain's chair on a boat this summer.

What is BWI or BUI?

BWI and BUI are short for Boating While Intoxicated and Boating Under the Influence, respectively.  Many boaters are not aware of the New Jersey law, N.J.S.A. 12:7-46 (“penalties for operating vessel under the influence”), which governs boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  A person can be charged with boating while intoxicated while operating any watercraft, from the smallest canoe to the largest yacht.  The BUI statute is similar to a motor vehicle DWI or DUI under N.J.S.A. 39: 4-50.  If convicted of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs on the water, the penalties are similar to those involved if found guilty of an ordinary DWI on land.

What are the Penalties of Boating Under the Influence?

The penalties for operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol are similar to those involved if you were to be charged with a DWI while driving a car under the influence.  If you are charged and convicted of BWI in New Jersey, you can see fines, jail time, probation, license suspension and possibly more.  The U.S. Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police work together on our local waters to patrol for dangerous boat operators.
For a first offense BWI conviction, the penalties include a minimum $250 fine, the suspension of his or her boating license for one year and the suspension of his or her driver's license for at least three months.  For a second BUI conviction, the punishment is increased to $500 or more in fines, 30 days of community service, imprisonment for 2 to 90 days and the revocation of both his or her boater's and driver's licenses for two years.  If convicted of boating while intoxicated for a third or subsequent time, the defendant faces a fine of $1,000, 180 days or more in jail and the loss of his or her boater's and driver's licenses for ten years.

Call a NJ DWI Lawyer if Charged with Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)

A BWI conviction can be life altering and intrusive.  Don't take drinking and operating on the water lightly!  Lifelong Ocean County resident and avid boating enthusiast, Carmine R. Villani, Esq., is one of a very few number of New Jersey criminal defense attorneys trained to operate the Alcotest® 7110 device and to perform a New Jersey specific breath test.  Mr. Villani can help defend against your DWI while boating charges.  Located in Point Pleasant Beach, the law firm of Villani & DeLuca is convenient to clients throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County, New Jersey.  Call today for a free consultation.

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