Can You Be Arrested Drunk Driving While Boating?
Going out on the boat can be a great leisure activity, especially during the summer. As one can imagine, many people chose to enjoy alcohol while taking part in the fun on the water. But, what many do not realize is that BWI (boating while intoxicated) is a serious offense. It is governed by a completely separate statute than DWI (driving while intoxicated) but the penalties are comparable. And while the two statues are functionally similar, a BWI charge must be defended uniquely by experienced BWI attorneys. If you feel that your BWI charge was given unlawfully or otherwise handled inappropriately, call Villani and DeLuca today at (732) 800-2980.
Elements Of BWI In New Jersey
In New Jersey, there are three elements the prosecution is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to charge a boater with a BWI. They must prove the boater was operating a “vessel” (which most boats will satisfy), on state waters, under the influence of intoxicating liquor or other drugs. This charge is substantially similar to the New Jersey DWI or DUI charge in terms of the arrest process and probable cause requirements. Because of this, our experienced attorneys may be able to fight your charge. At Villani and DeLuca, we will evaluate all aspects of your BWI charge to be sure the process was handled in accordance with the United States Constitution and the strict procedural requirements law enforcement is required to follow.
What Exactly Is A Vessel?
Most boats will be legally defined as “vessels” under New Jersey law. Any boat that is 12 feet or longer, whether there is a motor or not, is considered a vessel. This means that sailboats can be considered vessels, as well as other non-powered boats.
What Are The Penalties For A BWI In New Jersey?
The penalties for a BWI charge are similar to those that would follow a DWI charge. First and foremost, the boater will lose their boating license for one year. This is a standard penalty, and will typically not be reduced by a judge. In addition, the boater will lose their regular driver's license for three months, the same penalty that is given out for a normal DWI charge. The fines and fees that must be paid are all the same as those that must be paid for a first DWI charge with a BAC level below .10, which can be seen here (link to 1st offense DWI?). In this respect, BWI and DWI are slightly different. While DWI has more severe penalties for higher levels of BAC, BWI does not. When dealing with a BWI charge, so long as your BAC level is above .08, you will receive the full penalties. Additional BWI charges will follow the same exact penalty scale that DWI charges follow. Also, if lawfully stopped and arrested for DWI subsequent to a BWI charge, the BWI will count as a prior DWI charge. This means that your “first” driving while intoxicated offense will be counted and penalized as your second if you have a prior BWI charge on your record.
If you or someone you know is charged with BWI, seek excellent legal representation immediately. At Villani & DeLuca, P.C., we have experience fighting these charges and do our very best to protect your rights. Acting quickly and securing first-rate legal counsel is imperative in defending your charge. Call us today for a free legal consultation at (732) 800-2980 .