New Jersey's Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws

Read about New Jersey’s drunk boating laws and the consequences of a conviction.

New Jersey law prohibits operating a vessel while under the influences of drugs or alcohol. The term “vessel” includes vessels that are “temporarily or permanently equipped with machinery for propulsion” or 12 feet or greater in length. (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 12:7-46, 12:7-71 (2016).) A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for operating a vessel while:

  • impaired by alcohol, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit forming drug so as to alter the boater’s “normal physical coordination and mental faculties [and] render such person a danger to himself as well as to other persons,” or
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 12:7-46 (2016); State v. DiCarlo, 67 N.J. 321 (1975).)

BUI Penalties

The consequences of a New Jersey BUI conviction depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, the possible penalties are:

  • First-offense BUI for alcohol impairment or .08% BAC. A first-offense BUI involving alcohol impairment or a BAC of .08% or greater but less than .1% carries $250 to $400 in fines, a one-year boating privilege suspension, and a three-month driver’s license suspension.
  • First-offense BUI for drug impairment of .1% BAC. A first-offense BUI involving drug impairment or a BAC of .1% or greater carries $300 to $500 in fines, a one-year boating privilege suspension, and driver’s license suspension of seven months to one year.
  • Second-offense BUI. A second-offense BUI carries $500 to $1,000 in fines, 30 days of community service, 48 hours to 90 days in jail, and two-year suspensions of boating and driving privileges.
  • Third or subsequent BUI. A third or subsequent BUI carries $1,000 in fines, at least 180 days in jail (the court can convert up to 90 days to community service), and ten-year suspensions of boating and driving privileges.

For purposes of determining whether a BUI is a second or subsequent offense, only BUIs that occurred within the past ten years count.

All convicted boaters must comply with the screening, evaluation, and referral requirements of the Intoxicated Driving Program (IDP) and complete a state-approved boating safety course.   

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 12:7-46 (2016).)


Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to an Attorney

The consequences of a New Jersey BUI are serious, and the facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence, get in touch with an experienced BUI lawyer. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on your best course of action.

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