Can You Get a DUI for Boating Under the Influence in New Jersey?

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boating under influence new jersey nj

Going for a summertime boat ride out on the lake might sound like a wonderful leisure activity, especially if you were to partake in some alcoholic beverages or drugs. However, by doing so, you place yourself not only at risk of sustaining or inflicting significant injuries but put yourself in serious legal jeopardy. While we can’t stress enough how important it is that you never consume alcohol or drugs before or during the operation of a moving vehicle, you should understand the consequences of doing so. For more information on boating under the influence in New Jersey, please read on, then contact an experienced Mercer County first DUI lawyer today.

Is boating under the influence permitted in New Jersey?

“Boating While Intoxicated” (BWI) is a serious offense in the Garden State 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. Boating while intoxicated is now a per se offense, just like a DWI. If you operate a water vessel with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent 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.

How does New Jersey prove boating under the influence charges?

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. This includes motorboats, sailboats and even rowboats.
  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.

What are the penalties for boating under the influence?

The penalties will depend on the number of times, if any, you have previously sustained convictions for these or related offenses. The increasingly severe penalties are as follows:

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
  • Completion of 48-hour IDRC course while in detention

Third or subsequent offense:

  • Boating license suspension for 10 years
  • Driver’s license suspension for 2 years
  • Fine of $1,000
  • Mandatory jail sentence of 180 days
  • 12- to 48-hour IDRC detention, which may result in further treatment requirements

No matter how many times you have faced these charges in the past, you should reach out to a skilled Mercer County DUI lawyer as soon as possible.


If you face a criminal matter, contact The Law Office of Douglas Herring to schedule your initial consultation.

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