Any small craft captain worth his salt knows it’s boating season, but before you power up your twin inboard, take a moment to scan the horizon and double-check your alcoholic beverage intake. This weekend, from Sandy Hook to Cape May, the New Jersey State Police will be patrolling offshore in search of intoxicated boat operators. And just like DWI for landlubbers, being arrested for boating under the influence (or BUI) can be a costly experience.
Drunk boating, like drunk driving, is enforced by local and state police units. This latest campaign, christened “Operation Dry Water,” begins today and runs through Sunday, June 28. It’s a combined effort between the New Jersey State Police and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and designed to hook skippers piloting their craft under the influence of alcohol in state waters, which includes bays and the ocean up to three miles out.
According to the USCG, enforcement will be heaviest in the Atlantic City and Cape May areas, with sobriety checkpoints set up at various points on the water. In addition to BUI offenses, law enforcement personnel will be looking for anyone navigating recklessly or carelessly. Those observed exhibiting drunken behavior should be prepared to be boarded and examined for intoxication.
In New Jersey, boaters can lose their boating privileges for one year and their automobile driver’s license as well. That’s three months for a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, and seven months for 0.10 percent or more. You should know that while New Jersey does not confiscate boats of those captains who are arrested for BUI, other states do confiscate watercraft.
Authorities also will usually administer field sobriety tests, although they can be somewhat different from those conducted on dry land. And although they do not want to give away their tactics in detail for this coming weekend, law enforcement agencies say their goal is not to arrest boaters so much as to educate them about the BUI problem.
One message authorities are pushing is that alcohol has an enhanced effect on the water. According to experts, the glaring sun, waves, motion of the boat and other influences aboard a boat only help the body absorb alcohol faster. This can impair an individual’s motor functions, reaction time, judgment and other critical boating skills.
As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys, the lawyers at The Offices of John F. Marshall have a great deal of experience in boating under the influence cases. Our Toms River office is convenient to many marinas in the Jersey Shore area and is available to assist you or someone you know who has been charged with a BUI, DWI or breath test refusal. You can contact us for a free initial consultation at 877-450-8301, toll free.
State Police to crack down on drunken boating, PressofAtlanticCity.com, June 26, 2009