In New Jersey and nationwide, people operating vehicles other than cars are also subject to DWI laws and charges. Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) is treated exactly the same as a DWI in New Jersey with the same fines and penalties included. In the eyes of the New Jersey law, a BWI is a DWI.
Although treated the same as a DWI, a BWI charge has a few unique circumstances that must be met. The boat in question must be motorized or at least 12 feet long for a BWI to be valid. This includes motorboats, jet skis, charter boats, sailboats, and even rowboats. Jurisdiction extends to both the Delaware and Hudson rivers and extends to 3 nautical miles off the New Jersey coast. You can also be given a BWI if you knowingly allow someone under the influence of alcohol to operate the boat.
The BAC to determine intoxication in a boater is the same as a DWI. Anyone operating a boat with a BAC of 0.08% on a recreational boat or 0.04% on a commercial boat will be charged with a BWI. This applies to any waterway within New Jersey waters including the Atlantic Ocean, lakes, rivers, etc. Boaters are still subject to the implied consent law, so refusing to take a breathalyzer test will result in the loss of boating license and other penalties.
The penalties for boating while intoxicated are the same as a DWI and become more severe with each consecutive offense. The most damning consequence of a BWI conviction, however, is that both your boating license and your driver’s license will be suspended. The length of the suspension is dependent on your BAC level at the time of the arrest with higher BAC’s leading to longer suspensions. Even worse, if you’ve been charged with a BWI and then later charged of a DWI, the BWI will count as a prior offense resulting in increased penalties and possibly jail time.
Due to the complicated nature of a BWI charge, it is possible to make an effective case to defend yourself. Police officers must follow strict procedure and have probable cause to legally arrest you for a BWI. Field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests can also be affected by water and weather conditions and skew the results that led to your BWI. An experienced lawyer can exploit all these flaws in the prosecution’s case and have your charges reduced or dismissed altogether. If you’ve been convicted for boating while intoxicated, contact the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. for a team of skilled defense attorneys who work aggressively to put an end to your BWI charges.