NJ Boating DUI
While being out boating may feel like you’re free and clear of any mainland worries, there is one particular harbor you don’t want to find yourself in: Getting busted for operating a boat – or letting someone else operate your boat – while under the influence of alcohol.
“The penalties for operating a vessel, which, by state law, is defined as a ‘power’ vessel or any boat over 12 feet in length, are often more severe than a motor vehicle DWI offense,” said W. Les Hartman, a KMHL partner who specializes in DWI and criminal defense. “And you can also lose your driving privileges as a result. Many New Jerseyans don’t realize this.”
A quick primer, then:
For a first offense, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is between .08 (the legal limit) and .10, the fines run between $250 and $400, along with losing boating privileges for one year and driving privileges for three months. If the BAC is over .10, the fines ramp up to between $300 and $500, and loss of driving privileges goes up to between seven months and a full year.
For a second offense … well, the state frowns on second offenses.
Fines go up to a maximum of $1,000, along with 30 days community service, the possibility of up to 90 days in jail, loss of boating and driving privileges for two years. A third offense carries $1,000 fine, plus a minimum of 180 days in jail, along with 10 years before you’d be allowed to operate a boat or car in the state of New Jersey. “When people are on vacation, or even just out for an afternoon, it’s easy to forget the laws still apply,” Hartman said. “You figure a few a beers here, maybe a glass of wine there, a celebratory shot or two isn’t any big deal when you’re out on the water. But it adds up, and it could add up to serious legal problems down the line.
The best bet, obviously, is a designated (boat) driver. Short of that, it’s best to keep the drinking to an absolute minimum if you plan on operating a boat or any other power vessel in the waters. Save the party upon return to the mainland.