Boating Under the Influence

Many recreational boaters are unaware that operating a vessel while under the influence in New Jersey is a serious offense. Many recreational boaters forget that a boat is a vehicle and that safe operation is a legal and personal responsibility.

Boating under the influence is a serious charge carrying severe penalties including jail time, fines, alcohol education programs, boating safety classes with an additional alcohol education component, community service, and more. It's important to consult with an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney when facing any criminal charge.

Boating under the influence is defined as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent for a recreational water vessel and .04 percent for a commercial vessel. There is zero tolerance for watercrafts such as aquaplanes and water skis, prohibiting the watercraft driver from consuming any amount of alcohol.

Alcohol impairs the ability to focus, balance, and coordinate, and furthermore a boat does not have the stopping, turning, or reversing capabilities that a car does. Because of this, some consider boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs to be even more dangerous than driving under the influence.

The marine environment - motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray - may accelerate a drinker's impairment. In addition, a boater spends much less time during the year on the water; therefore, his or her experience is likely much less when compared to a driver on the road. Recreational boaters don't have the experience of daily boat operation. In fact, boaters average only 110 hours on the water per year.

Consider these helpful suggestions to avoid problems related to boating under the influence:

  • While on a boating trip, carry a variety of cool drinks, such as sodas, water, iced tea, lemonade, or non-alcoholic beer.
  • Take ample amounts of refreshments.
  • Wear clothes that will help keep you and your passengers cool.
  • Take a trip of reasonable duration, to avoid exhaustion.
  • If you want to drink alcohol on your boating trip, plan to have it ashore at the dock, in a picnic area, or at a boating club, so that you'll have time between the fun and getting back into your boat.
  • If you stop somewhere to eat and consume alcohol, hang around for a reasonable time (estimated at a minimum of an hour per drink) before driving your boat.
Because of the severe penalties of a BUI / BWI conviction, it is crucial to have an expert defense attorney to protect the boater's rights. An attorney experienced in boating under the influence cases can provide persuasive representation and attempt to minimize the negative consequences of an arrest.

Please call us at 1-877-593-1717 to discuss your case. Or, email us at

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