Summer’s Not Over; Neither is the Opportunity for a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Arrest

Anyone who has been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will understand that it is not something one ever looks forward to. However, with the help of an experienced DWI defense attorney — one skilled in New Jersey drunk driving law and experienced in representing individuals in a courtroom — the most harrowing part of being the defendant in a DWI case may be alleviated to some extent.

At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our legal team offers decades of collective DWI, drug DUI, and criminal defense experience. Whether one is charged with driving while intoxicated by alcohol, impaired by prescription meds or illegal drugs, breath test refusal or any number of drunk driving-related offenses, our lawyers are ready to help.

One thing that most drivers don’t necessarily understand is that BWI, otherwise referred to as “boating under the influence” or BUI, carries with it similar penalties to the automotive equivalent, DUI or DWI. Our familiarity with New Jersey DUI/DWI law allows us to represent both drivers and boaters who have been accused of operating their vehicles while allegedly intoxicated by alcohol, doctor-prescribed medications or illicit drugs (sometimes called controlled dangerous substances, or CDS).

When it comes to BUI, the state of New Jersey has separate statutes to cover instances of boating while impaired. These laws are tailored specifically for situations where the captain or operator of a boat is determined to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DWI law as it pertains to boaters is set forth in N.J.S.A. 12:7-46, which functions similarly to that affecting drivers of cars, trucks and motorcycles (specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4
With summer somewhat on the wane, but certainly not over in terms of the boating season, we feel it important to advise people to be keenly aware of the enforcement of anti-BUI laws in New Jersey’s coastal and inland waterways. Anyone charged with BUI or boating DWI should seriously consider consulting with an experienced lawyer in this area.

Since a conviction for BUI can have a negative effect on one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle on public roads, it is in most every boater’s interest to understand the ramifications that a BUI arrest and conviction can have on his or her future boating and driving privileges. A skilled DWI/BUI attorney can be instrumental in cases involving DUI, breath test refusal and drug DUI-related charges.

When it comes to individuals charged with operating a watercraft (12 feet or longer) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there are several points to keep in mind. In New Jersey, the local prosecutor’s office will be looking to prove the offender guilty by showing that, A) the defendant was actually operating the watercraft; (B) that the operation of said vessel occurred on waters controlled by the State of New Jersey; and (C) that the defendant was under the influence of an intoxicating beverage, narcotic, or hallucinogen/habit-producing drug.

As DWI defense attorneys, our staff understands that the typical manner for proving alcohol intoxication is usually by a breathalyzer test (or occasionally by a blood test), which should reflect the blood-alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent.

One of the considerations that any person accused of BUI/BWI should remember is that if convicted, both his boating license as well as his motor vehicle license can be subject to suspension. In the case of a first BUI/BWI offense, a person’s boating license can be revoked for 12 months (driver’s license suspension of three months). On a second offense, the period of suspension is two years for the defendant’s boating license and six months for his or her automobile license. A third conviction can garner a 10-year boating license suspension and a two-year suspension of that individual’s driver’s license.

While there is no jail time attached to a first offense, on a second offense the penalty can range from two days to three months in jail; a third conviction will likely result in in a mandatory jail term of 180 days. Furthermore, the fine for a first offense ranges from $250 to $400, while second and third offenses can be as much as $1,000. It is also important to understand that, by law, the statute of limitation for BUI/BWI (based on N.J.S.A. 12:7-57) is 90 days following the offense, after which the complaint is barred by law.