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.
The collision, which occurred around 11:30pm, reportedly killed 50-year-old Christopher Plant, who was thrown from Harrington’s Stingray power boat during the crash. News reports indicate that Harrignton and five other people on the second craft, a Boston Whaler, were also ejected into the water as a result of the crash. Everybody except Plant was able to get aboard one of the two boats following the wreck.
According to police, the Amanda Lynn of Fair Haven, NJ, witnessed the accident from the north end of Grange Ave. Lynn also stated to police that a paddleboarder discovered the victim’s body while traveling the river a little after 8am on Sunday morning. Plant’s body was located toward the middle of the river a ways west from the area where overnight search efforts had been carried out.
The search effort the night of the crash was one of the largest in the area since a 2009 incident when the former Fair Haven fire chief jumped into the river after having been involved in a DWI-related traffic accident in Rumson, NJ, that November.
Based on news articles, a small flotilla of emergency response vessels from numerous municipalities up and down the river converged on the crash site. The watercraft and divers were soon joined by two helicopters as they scoured the river for signs of the missing man into the morning hours, but to no avail. A command and control center was temporarily set up in the pre-dawn hours as searchers tried to find the lost man.
At the time of the report, police did not have any additional details on the custody status of the allegedly drunk boat captain. According to reports, Harrington had received minor injuries, which included a slight shoulder injury that did not require a hospital visit.
COPS: BODY FOUND, BOAT DRIVER WAS DRUNK, RedBankGreen.com, July 24, 2011