What Should You Know About Boating Under the Influence in New Jersey
As with all US states, it is illegal to operate a vessel while under the influence of substances such as alcohol or drugs. If you get caught violating New Jersey’s boating under the influence or BUI law, there will be legal consequences for which you are going to need the services of a criminal defense lawyer.
Here some of the things you should know about boating under the influence in New Jersey.
Blood alcohol content
As with driving under the influence, the legal intoxication level for a BUI in New Jersey is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.
New Jersey authorities regularly patrol its waters
Police regularly patrol the waters of New Jersey. The waters under the jurisdiction of the state include the inlets, lagoons, back bays and open ocean bounding the shore towns of New Jersey, as well as its rivers, lakes, canals, streams and other inland waterways where people can operate vessels. These patrols and checkpoints also tend to increase during the warmer months, when more people go out in various vessels to enjoy the sun.
If police stop your boat and board it, it is in your best interest to cooperate because they have the authority to do so, especially if they have probable cause.
Penalties for a BUI in New Jersey
For an individual convicted of a BUI in New Jersey, the possible penalties will always depend on the circumstances of his or her case.
For first offenders caught with a BAC of .08% or greater but less than .1%, the penalties include a fine that ranges from $250 to $400, suspension of boating privileges for a year, and a three-month suspension of their driver’s license. The penalties are stiffer for first-time BUI offenders involving drug impairment or those found to have a BAC of .1% or greater. If convicted, they have to pay $300 to $500 in fines. They will also be slapped with a one-year suspension of their boating privilege. Their driver’s license will also be suspended, but for seven months to one year in their case.
Heavier penalties await those who violate New Jersey’s BUI laws for the second time. Once convicted of a second BUI offense, a person has to pay fines that range from $500 to $1,000. He or she will also be sentenced to 48 hours to 90 days in jail, as well as 30 days of community service. Boating and driving privileges will also be suspended for two years.
A third or subsequent BUI conviction carries $1,000 in fines, suspension of boating and driving privileges for ten years, and at least 180 days in jail. The court, however, has the authority to convert up to 90 days of that jail sentence to community service.
Driving a boat while under the influence is just as dangerous as drunk driving, perhaps even more so. It takes a lot more skill to operate a vessel, and any impairment of those skills carries a lot of risks. It’s great to have fun on a boat, but you shouldn’t drink alcohol or take drugs while driving one. You will only be putting your life and that of your passengers on the line if you do.