Articles Posted in Boating DWI

While some non-boaters probably don’t know that the State of New Jersey legal statutes have a specific section that covers operation of a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol, prescription meds or illicit drugs; however, anyone who does pilot a boat in state waters should be aware of the law that addresses such situations. As Garden State drunken driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I know the downside to being arrested, charged and convicted of DWI, but it is important to note that BWI (boating while intoxicated) has its own consequences.

When it comes to operating a watercraft while under the influence, the BWI statute (specifically N.J.S.A. 12:7-46) acts very much like the automobile-related DWI law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50). If a boater is charged with BWI, my firm is staffed with a group of highly skilled and experienced attorneys who know how to handle such cases. For instance, a qualified DWI-DUI lawyer should understand that in order for the state to prove a person is guilty BWI, three elements must be covered:

First and foremost, the prosecution must show that the defendant was actually operating the watercraft or vessel in question. Second, the alleged operation of said vessel must have occurred on waters within the legal jurisdiction of the State of New Jersey. Finally, the third element involves proving that the accused boater was legally under the influence of an intoxicating beverage; or a hallucinogenic, narcotic, or habit-forming drug.
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Quite frequently during course of the summer it is not uncommon for New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys to receive numerous inquiries regarding the validity of a BWI summons, better known as a boating while intoxicated offense. The fact that the bulk of these kinds of charges crop up during the warmer weather is hardly surprising given the marked increase in boaters and recreational fishermen who take to the waters off of the Jersey Shore, as well as on the inland waterways throughout the Garden State.

As Monmouth County DWI-DUI lawyers, we understand fully the confusion that surrounds a BWI arrest or issuance of a summons related to intoxicated boating. While most people understand that driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs is a serious offense when on New Jersey roadways, many find it somewhat difficult to equate the seriousness of drunk driving to the operation of a watercraft.

One of the possible trains of thought is that there are fewer boats on the water than cars on the turnpike, so why should drinking a little alcohol while piloting a powerboat be such a serious matter? Another rationalization could be that boats don’t travel as fast as cars, so collisions, if they occur, should be less dangerous. Unfortunately, New Jersey law enforcement agencies, as well as the state’s legislators, feel much more strongly about the dangers of drinking while operating a boat. Either way, the fact remains that BWI is a chargeable offense and a potentially costly one as well.
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It is probably safe to say that winter is over and done with here in the Garden State. Now, with summer officially in full swing, we feel obliged to remind readers that vacation revelry can lead not only to instances of drinking and driving, drug DUI and other related chargeable offenses, but it can also result in faulty judgment calls, especially during extracurricular activities such as power boating and sailing. As drunken driving defense attorneys here in Monmouth County, we know that drunk driving is just one of several potential violations that can and do take place along the Jersey Shore.

Many people who have visited this state’s fabulous ocean-side venues up and down the Garden State coast may already have experienced the embarrassment of receiving a DWI or drug DUI summons during a visit to the seashore. Those who came to enjoy boating and other watersports — either off the shoreline or in one of this state’s numerous waterways — may have found themselves being approached by law enforcement officers after a minor boating-related mishap or simple procedural error while negotiating New Jersey waters.

For some of those who may have imbibed a little bit before their encounter with local police, coastguard, or sheriff’s department personal may have found themselves cited for being intoxicated while piloting their watercraft. Boating while intoxicated (or BWI) has been an offense in New Jersey since the early ’50s. About twenty years ago, legislators in Trenton revised the BWI statutes to provide a handful of ways in which a boater can be charged with drunken operation of a vessel.
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We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Nobody is completely free from the scrutiny of police officers on Garden State roadways, which means that anyone who takes a drink and then drives a motor vehicle on a public highway or city street is taking a big risk. And that risk applies not only to the driver’s potential health and safety — and that of his passengers — but also to his financial well-being. This is simply because DUI-DWI fines can be quite heavy, with the effects of a drunken driving conviction often lasting for quite some time depending on the current offense and those previous, if any.

Having worked for many years both as a former municipal prosecutor and now as a defense attorney for motorists accused of DWI, drug DUI, breath test refusal and other alcohol and drug-related traffic offenses, I fully understand the potential negative outcome of a DWI conviction. Many people, especially those for whom a drunken driving arrest may be their first scrape with the law, the ultimate consequences of being found guilty of driving under the influence can sometimes be lost amidst all the other procedural details of fighting such a charge.

The point we would like to convey here is that drunk driving has become such an inexcusable offense in the eyes of the public — not to mention the police and our courts — that those repeat offenders can hardly expect any kind of a pass when they transgress over and over again. Even those high-profile individuals are finding it harder and harder to gain any kind of meaningful consideration when a DWI or drug DUI is concerned.
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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).
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The warm weather is fast upon us these days and that can only mean one thing to the nautically-minded among us: It’s boating season in the Garden State. Up and down the Jersey Shore and throughout the state’s inland waterways we will be seeing more and more small craft heading out from dock in the coming weeks.

As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, we do know that just as we landlubbers must concern ourselves with an increase in the number of anti-DWI police patrols and sobriety roadblocks during the warmer months, boaters must also consider that drinking and boating is as much out of vogue as that of the automotive set. Quite frankly, boating under the influence (BUI) or alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI) carries with it similar and just as costly penalties as DWI does on land.

This is not without justification, though many people who ply the waters in and around Jersey may find it hard to believe that piloting a boat while slightly tipsy could be as dangerous as driving drunk on a busy freeway; but the state of New Jersey takes safety on our waterways very seriously, and hence the penalties for BUI are just as heavy as for motorists.
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Something that many people don’t consider a serious issue is drinking aboard smaller watercraft. While the wide open stretches of New Jersey’s coastal areas and even those inland waterways may not seem to have the same “dangers” as Garden State roadways, there are similarities. And while small craft captains up and down the Jersey Shore know that boating season is here to stay for the next few months, it’s wise to remember also that New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) are watching for potential drunken boating.

Before one casts off and powers out into the surf, take time to be sure that all your safety equipment is in order and that your passengers are aware of emergency procedures. Meanwhile, scan the horizon because you are likely to find a sheriff patrol boat not far away. It’s sometimes difficult as a captain of a small vessel not to take part in the onboard revelry, but this is a potentially dangerous move, especially if alcohol is being served.

No matter where you may be cruising, from Cape May to Atlantic City or Sandy Hook, New Jersey State Police are constantly on the lookout for intoxicated boat operators. And, while boating offers a much more rewarding experience above and beyond that of driving the interstate, captains can be cited for DWI just the same as their land-based, four-wheel kin. Make no mistake, being arrested for boating under the influence (BUI, for short) can be just as costly an experience as drunken driving is on land.
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We may have had a false start earlier this year, but with warmer weather on the way again, one thing is certain: boating season cannot be far away, if not here already. With the warm weather comes the distinct possibility of BUI (boating under the influence) arrests. Whether one is a full-time boater, or more of a fair-weather pleasure-boating type, it’s a certainty that Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies will be on the lookout for captains who may be operating their vessels while impaired due to alcohol, prescription drugs or an illegal substance (commonly referred to by police as a controlled dangerous substance — CDS).

As New Jersey DWI-DUI defense attorneysI and my staff of experienced drunk driving lawyers understand the ease with which a passenger car driver or captain of a small watercraft can find himself on the receiving end of a DUI summons. Strangely, there likely a small percentage of part-time boaters who still believe that getting arrested for BUI is less likely than DWI on public roadways. Were that this was true.

Amazing to some, yet all to obvious to I and my staff, is that the same standards for intoxicated driving on public roads in the Garden State also apply to those who pilot boats and watercraft in New Jersey’s lakes, rivers and waterways. While many people do not realize this fact, the courts do not make any allowance for ignorance of the law, especially in this area of drunken driving/boating.
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For anyone who thinks that having a can of beer, glass of wine or shot of whiskey while operating a watercraft in New Jersey waters is not the same as driving a passenger car after having a drink of alcohol, think again. New Jersey law enforcement agencies in Monmouth, Atlantic, Ocean and Bergen counties are serious when they say that boating under the influence (BUI) is just as serious as driving while intoxicated (DWI).

As New Jersey drunken driving defense lawyers, my firm offers consultation and representation to motorists and boaters who have been arrested for and charged with driving a car or piloting a boat while under the influence of alcohol. But it doesn’t end there; motorists and boaters alike have been charged with other related offenses, such as possession of marijuana or other controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Like DWI, a drug DUI charge can turn into a conviction, which can result in heavy penalties and even jail time, depending on the circumstances.

Not long ago, a New Jersey boater was arrested following an apparent fatal BUI incident in Middletown, NJ. According to news reports, 39-year-old George Harrington was arrested in connection with a boating accident that allegedly caused the death of his only passenger on Saturday, July 23. Based on police reports, Harrington was charged with drunk driving on a portion of the Navesink River after the watercraft he was piloting struck a second boat carrying five other individuals.
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With summer fully underway, it’s not uncommon to hear of more drinking and driving arrests on Garden State roadways. And, with these warm and sunny days, boaters are out in droves enjoying the refreshing sea air and inland waterways. What is also a given during the summertime months is an increase in drunken boating enforcement.

Known as BUI (or boating under the influence), local and state law enforcement and public safety officers are on the prowl for skippers of watercraft who may be operating their boats while impaired by alcohol, prescription medication or other, sometimes illicit drugs (also referred to as controlled dangerous substances or CDS). As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my firm is well versed in the various state laws and legal statutes related to driving a car or boat while intoxicated.

The same standards used in the enforcement of drunk driving laws for automobile drivers apply to that of boaters. Every captain of a watercraft should consider the implications of boating while intoxicated, just as every motorist needs to take into account the potential consequences of driving a car while impaired by beer, wine, hard liquor or doctor-prescribed medication (drug DUI), even marijuana and cocaine.

Whether you are in Atlantic, Ocean or Cape May, driving drunk on a New Jersey road or piloting your fishing or pleasure boat while intoxicated; either way you could be cited for DWI. A boater whose blood-alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit of 0.08 percent can be arrested and charged with BUI. And the same applies to drug DUI and breath test refusal when on the water.
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