Memorial Day is just around the corner, and many people in New Jersey will be celebrating the unofficial kick off to summer by doing some recreational boating or other activities on the water. New Jersey is becoming increasingly crowded, meaning residents and tourists are flocking to our waterways in record numbers, increasing the chances of boating incidents.
The New Jersey State Police and the United States Coast Guard are the two law enforcement agencies that combat intoxicated boating in New Jersey. If you are stopped for suspicion of BUI, law enforcement will require the boat captain to take the same sobriety test as someone who has been stopped in their car. The captain may also have to submit to a Breathalyzer test to see if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit. When the operator of a vessel is asked to take a Breathalyzer test, they are presumed to have consented to the test by accepting their boating license. This is known as implied consent. Refusing to take the Breathalyzer test will result in an additional charge for refusing the test, and you may still be charged with a BUI.
The law that governs intoxicated boating in New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 12:7-46, was enacted in 1995. Prior to that time, careless, reckless, or intoxicated boaters could be re-licensed by simply paying a fine and servicing a period of license suspension. Under the new law, offenders must also take a boating safety course as a condition of re-licensure.
The Legislature modeled the intoxicated boating laws on the existing drunk driving statutes. In order to be convicted of a boating DWI, the prosecutor must prove three elements:
- The suspect must have been operating a “vessel” (a water vessel that is 12 feet or more);
- They must have been operating it in New Jersey waters; and
- They must have been operating it under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug; this is often proven by establishing that the vessel’s operator had a BAC of .08 percent or greater.
In addition, a person can be convicted of a BUI if they permit another person who is under the influence of drugs or has a BAC of .08 percent or greater to operate a vessel. If an individual is operating a commercial vessel, the lower BAC of .04 percent is considered the legal limit.
Penalties for BUI
If you are convicted of a BUI, not only will you lose your boating license, but you will also lose your regular driver’s license. The first time an individual is convicted of boating while intoxicated, their boating license will be revoked for one year, their driver’s license will be suspended for three months, and they will face a fine of between $250 and $400. Court costs of $33 may be imposed, as well as a $50 assessment for the Victims of Crime Compensation Board (VCCB). These fines will be even greater if a person had a BAC of .10 percent or higher. First time offenders must also complete a program of alcohol education at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC), and take a boating safety course
For a second BUI offense, a person will lose their boating license for two years, and their driver’s license for six months. They will also face two to 90 days in jail, a fine of between $500 and $1000, and costs and fees. Convicted defendants must also serve 30 days of community service, and complete a rehabilitation program at the IDRC.
For third and subsequent offenses, a person will lose their boating license for ten years and their driver’s license for two full years. In addition, a third BUI will result in a mandatory 180-day jail term. Community service may be substituted for part of this term. Third time offenders must pay a $1000 fine plus costs and fees, complete a boating safety course and a rehabilitation program at the IDRC.
New Jersey Boating While Intoxicated Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Defends Individuals Charged With a BUI
Getting a BUI is a serious matter that can result in crippling fines and potential jail time. A conviction for BUI will also count as a prior offense if you are subsequently charged with additional DWI offenses. At the Law Office of Edward M. Janzekovich, our goal is always to help our clients avoid a conviction. To discuss your case, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.