Boating While Intoxicated

“Boating While Intoxicated” (BWI) is a serious offense in New Jersey, and the State’s courts treat it in much the same way as a DWI. In fact, the Motor Vehicle Commission’s official website makes no distinction between the offenses at all.

New Jersey’s Boating While Intoxicated Law

As of July 2, 2004, New Jersey’s Boating While Intoxicated Statute (N.J.S.A. 12:7-46) conforms to the same definitions and penalties as the State’s drunk driving laws.

Boating while intoxicated is now a per se offense, just like DWI. If you operate a water vessel with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, you can be charged with BUI. It is also an offense to be “under the influence of alcohol or drugs” while operating a vessel.

For the State to convict you, they need to prove three things:

  1. That you were operating a “vessel,” which is legally defined as a powered or unpowered watercraft of 12 feet or longer. Motorboats, sailboats, even rowboats are all included.
  2. That you were operating the vessel in the State of New Jersey’s waters. Boaters on the Delaware or Hudson Rivers, and those up to three nautical miles off the coast, are all under the State’s legal jurisdiction.
  3. You were under the influence of an “intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug.”

Officers will employ the same methods of determining intoxication as they would if you were driving, including breath, blood and urine tests. But just as in DWI cases, these tests are notoriously inaccurate, and subject to numerous errors. There are ways to beat this charge. With an experienced BWI lawyer, you can challenge the State and secure your rights.

BUI Penalties

Thinking of pleading guilty? If you are convicted of Boating While Intoxicated, you face:

  • Mandatory loss of both boating and driving privileges
  • Fines and court fees
  • Possible jail time

But the penalties become more severe after multiple offenses:

First Offense

  • Boating license suspension of one year
  • Driver’s license suspension of three months
  • Fines from $250 to $400
  • Completion of 12 hour Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) course

Second Offense

  • Boating license suspension of two years
  • Driver’s license suspension of six months
  • Fines from $500 to $1,000
  • Incarceration up to 90 days
  • Completion of 48 hour IDRC course while in detention

Third Offense Or More

  • Boating license suspended for ten years
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years
  • Fine of $1,000
  • Mandatory jail sentence of 180 days
  • 12 to 48 hour IDRC detention, which may result in further treatment requirements

Refusal to submit to a breath test is also a serious offense in this situation, and will result in a period of suspension of both boating and driving privileges.

Notably, there are no school zone penalties or surcharges associated with this violation.

Contact New Jersey’s Boating While Intoxicated Defense Lawyers

Charged with BUI? It’s no laughing matter. The penalties are severe, and can have a lasting impact on your family and livelihood.

But like a DWI, there are many defenses, and conviction is anything but assured. You need an aggressive defense attorney, one with years of experience and an unmatched track record. You need a lawyer who will protect your interests no matter the circumstances. You need Levow DWI Law.

Contact our expert BWI defense team today for a free consultation. Call 1-877-735-2288 or fill out our contact form.