Boating While Intoxicated

New Jersey has adopted a separate law to address situations where someone operates a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (a.k.a.”BWI”). The boating DWI law is set forth at N.J.S.A. 12:7-46 and basically functions like N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, the statute that applies to cars and trucks. If you were charged with driving while intoxicated while operating a boat, our lawyers are highly experienced and skilled in handling these cases. The following is some important information you might want to know about this offense and please do not hesitate to contact our office if you need representation or other assistance from one of our attorneys.

Elements of Boating While Intoxicated

In order for the prosecutor to prove an individual guilty of Boating DWI, there are three (3) elements. First, the suspect must have been operating a “vessel,” meaning a powered watercraft or water vessel that is 12 feet or more (e.g. sail boat, row boat, etc.). Second, the operation must have been on waters of the State of New Jersey. Third, the accused must have been under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug. The typical manner for proving intoxication, at least insofar as alcohol is concerned, is via a breath test or blood test that reflects a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of at least .08%.

Driver’s License Impact. If an individual is convicted of BWI, both their boating and motor vehicle license are subject to suspension.

License Suspension for Boating While Intoxicated

For a first offense BWI, an individual’s boating license is revoked for one (1) year and driver’s license is suspended for three (3) months. For a second offense BWI, the period of suspension is two (2) years for the boating license and six (6) months for the driver’s license. If an individual is convicted of a third or subsequent boating DWI, they are subject to a ten (10) year and two (2) year suspension of their boating license and driver’s license.

Jail Term for BWI

There is no jail time for a first offense BWI. A second offense BWI carries two (2) to ninety (90) days in jail. There is a mandatory jail term of one hundred and eighty (180) days for a third offense of boating while intoxicated.

Fines for Operating a Boat Under the Influence

First Offense$250-400
Second Offense$500-$1,000
Third Offense$1,000


Statute of Limitation. In accordance with N.J.S.A. 12:7-57, the state must file a Boating While Intoxicated summons within 90 days of the offense or the complaint is barred.

For further assistance, you can reach an attorney immediately at 877-450-8301.