Summertime. In New York, it’s the season when everyone wants to enjoy the water, whether they’re swimming, sailing, or pursuing some other water-related recreation. It’s all great fun until there’s an accident and someone gets hurt, or worse. Boating while intoxicated isn’t only against the law – it’s also frequently fatal. Impaired boaters are extremely dangerous, but if you’re arrested and charged with boating while intoxicated, it doesn’t mean that you’re guilty, and you shouldn’t plead guilty. If you’re charged with Boating While Ability Impaired (BWAI) or Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) in New York this summer, obtain legal help and contact an experienced Long Island DWI defense lawyer immediately.

New York Boating While Intoxicated Law

If you didn’t know, drinking while boating is against the law in New York just like drinking and driving. The law states:

  • No person shall operate a vessel upon the waters of the state while his ability to operate such vessel is impaired by the consumption of alcohol.
  • No such person shall operate a vessel other than a public vessel while he has .08 of one per centum or more by weight of alcohol in his blood, breath, urine, or saliva, as determined by the chemical test made pursuant to the provisions of subdivision seven of this section.
  • No such person shall operate a public vessel while he has .04 of one per centum or more by weight of alcohol in his blood, breath, urine, or saliva, as determined by the chemical test made pursuant to the provisions of subdivision seven of this section.
  • No person shall operate a vessel while he is in an intoxicated condition.

If you are suspected of boating while intoxicated, you may be subject to taking a blood alcohol content test. There are three main tests that are used:

  • Blood— Considered the most accurate, as it takes a direct measure of the alcohol level in the blood.
  • Breath— Gives an indirect BAC level, then uses a calculation to determine the alcohol content of the blood.  The police may have you take the test 2-3 times for a consistent reading.  While the test can be inaccurate, it is considered acceptably accurate by the courts for the purpose of gathering evidence.
  • Saliva—Test strips are used to determine the amount of alcohol in the saliva, then compared with a color chart for the reading.

It’s not recommended to refuse a blood alcohol content test. If a boater refuses to take the test to prove their sobriety, they will face penalties for their refusal. These penalties may include a loss of their boating privileges for a specific period of time and a monetary fine.

If a boat operator’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level registers at 0.08 percent or higher, the charge is Boating While Intoxicated (BWI). If convicted, a first-time offender can be fined up to $1,000 and go to jail for up to a year. A lesser charge, Boating While Ability Impaired (BWAI), can be filed if a boat operator’s BAC level registers from 0.05 percent to 0.07 percent. If convicted, a first-time BWAI offender can be fined up to $500 and go to jail for up to 15 days.

Boating while intoxicated or BWI doesn’t become a felony if you have a prior conviction, a child on your boat, or if other drugs are involved or combined with alcohol. Nevertheless, you do not want to be convicted of BWI in New York. If you’re charged with boating while intoxicated in the waters around Long Island or New York City, immediately retain the counsel of an experienced Long Island DWI lawyer.

Exercise Your Rights

One of your key rights is the right to remain silent. Sure, if you are a charming speaker, you might be able to talk your way around a traffic ticket, but a criminal investigation is another matter entirely. When you’re being investigated for a crime, talking with the police is almost always a mistake. You have the right to have an attorney present during any and all questioning. Don’t be concerned about your “Miranda” rights. As long as you are not under arrest, the police do not have to tell you your Miranda rights, but you always have a right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during any questioning.

In most cases, it is a person’s own statements that end up hurting them the most.  Even though the statements may seem simple and innocent enough, police are not trained to dissect facts and apply rules of law, they are trained to follow a checklist, of sorts, basing their decision to make an arrest based on certain words (in many cases, not even full sentences), which are reported to them. If you are being questioned by police, stay silent and contact a Long Island BWI attorney as soon as possible.

Staying Safe on the Water

Whenever you enjoy the water in and around Long Island, or New York City, always get a weather forecast before departing, always wear a life jacket, and always have a marine radio, flares, flashlights, and a fire extinguisher. Most importantly, don’t drink before operating a boat or any other kind of watercraft. Be proactive about safe boating, and if you’re charged with boating while intoxicated because you made a bad decision – or if you’re innocent and wrongly accused – speak as quickly as possible to an experienced Long Island DWI lawyer.

If you are facing charges for boating while intoxicated, don’t hesitate to contact a knowledgeable Long Island DWI attorney. An experienced Long Island DWI attorney can review the particulars of your BWI or BWAI case and recommend what’s best for you; if the evidence against you is overwhelming, that could mean accepting a plea bargain, but it other cases, it might mean going before a jury and fighting for your acquittal. Enjoy the waterways around New York and Long Island this summer, but please stay safe. If you need legal counsel now or in the future in the New York City or Long Island area regarding a BWI, BWAI, or DWI charge, arrange at once to speak with an experienced Long Island DWI defense lawyer.