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.
Since BUI is a serious matter, if only that too many people are killed in alcohol-related boating accidents, we offer this caveat for those about to weigh anchor and hit the high seas. Take our advice, if you are a captain of a small watercraft you owe it to yourself and your passengers to stay sober while at the helm.
And while nobody likes to miss out on the fun, there is nothing that says an intoxicated captain is the best choice for a safe and enjoyable cruise. As experienced trial attorneys, we have seen and heard stories of tragedy on the state’s waterways. We highly recommend that your boat always have a designated sober driver in order to stay safe and within the law. As any New Jersey police officer will tell you, sobriety at the helm is a top priority.
Naturally, everyone makes a mistake from time to time and this is why law offices like ours exist. Should you or someone you know be arrested for BUI, it is fully within your best interest to, at the very least, consult with a qualified legal professional skilled in drunken driving and BUI defense. As the Memorial Day holiday grows near, with summer and the Fourth of July not far away, all boaters should take stock of their responsibilities and promote a safe atmosphere on their craft at all times.
Remember that New Jersey law enforcement agencies have marine patrols, as does the United States Coast Guard, all of whom will be watching out for erratic behavior on the water and other telltale signs of inebriation at the wheel. Whether you’re bound for Sandy Hook, Cape May or Atlantic City, be aware of the law and the pitfalls that have sent many a captain to jail and his boat to impound.
Remember, too, that here in the Garden State, boaters can lose their boating/sailing privileges for upward of one year, not to mention risk the loss of their automobile driver’s license. So stay safe and enjoy your summer on the waves.