Boating Under the Influence

As the population grows in New Jersey more and more citizens use the rivers, bays and oceans each weekend for recreational boating activities. The huge number of sailboats, powered vessels, personal watercraft, and part fishing boats that can be seen at the seashore and on the lakes during each summer is a good indication of the popularity of leisure boating in New Jersey. Of course, with so many people operating so many vessels, the potential for accidents resulting in property damage, personal injury or death is great. This risk of a catastrophe is even more enhanced when the operator of the vessel in under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The New Jersey State Police and the United States Coast Guard are the two law enforcement units charged with the responsibility of patrolling New Jersey’s waterways for DWI or boating under the influence. The law that governs boating under the influence is N.J.S.A. 12:7-4. This law is in many respects similar to the law banning DWI.

If a person is convicted of boating under the influence, then the person must lose both their boating and driving privileges. The length of suspension of driving privileges tracks the suspension periods set forth in the latest version of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. Moreover, a refusal to submit to a breath test will also result in a period of suspension of both boating and driving privileges.

The 10-year step-down provision, IDRC requirements and the like remain unchanged. In addition, there are no school zone penalties or surcharges associated with this violation.

In summary, the most important consequence of a boating under the influence charge, is that if a person is convicted, then he or she also must have their driver’s license suspended. The length of the suspension is determined by whether the person was convicted with a BAC of .08% up to .10%, or with a BAC of .10% or higher. Moreover, a boating under the influence conviction will also count as a prior if a person is subsequently charged with additional DWI offenses.

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