With summertime approaching, law enforcement has an increased concern over impaired and drunk boaters. As the heat rises, more and more boaters take to the water for relief. Police are often concerned that these boaters will drink while operating their vessels, potentially causing dangerous or even deadly accidents. Facing such concerns, East End law enforcement is continuing with an annual campaign designed to prevent drunk and impaired boating during the summer months.

The East End DWI Task Force has begun its third annual anti-drunk driving and boating campaign. The Task Force comprises officers from multiple agencies so that the effort will be as widespread as possible. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota supports the Task Force, stating, “We want people to come to the East End, we want them to enjoy what we have out here…But if they choose to drive or operate a boat while drunk, they’re going to pay the penalty.” Spota has deputized Task Force officers, allowing the officers to cross jurisdictional bounds during the summer campaign. In additional to local law enforcement, the New York State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard will help watch for and stop impaired boaters. Officials claim previous Task Force efforts have greatly increased safety in the local waterways and roads.

Many boaters may not realize that laws similar to DWI and DWAI laws apply to boating. A BWAI, or Boating While Ability Impaired (BWAI), charge applies to anyone operating a boat while impaired by alcohol. Under this charge, impairment is defined as operating a boat with blood alcohol content (BAC) level between 0.05% and 0.07%. For a first-time BWAI offense, a convicted boater may face a fine of up to $500; a 6-month suspension of boating privileges; and up to 15 days in jail.

The more serious charge of boating while intoxicated (BWI) can lead to even harsher penalties for a convicted boater. A BWI charge can be brought against a boat operator with a BAC of at least 0.08%, which is the state intoxication standard for vehicle operation. A BWI conviction is a misdemeanor conviction that could result in penalties including up to 1 year in jail; a maximum fine of $1,000; and all boating privileges revoked for up to 1 year.

In addition to searching Long Island waterways for drunk or impaired boaters, the East End DWI Task Force will also be on the lookout for drunk drivers. Officers will be holding DWI checkpoints at various locations throughout the summer. Drivers found with a BAC of at least 0.08% can be charged with a DWI. Upon conviction for a first DWI offense, a New York driver will face penalties including up to 1 year in jail; a maximum fine of $1,000 in addition to a mandatory surcharge of $400; a 6-month license revocation; and the required installation/maintenance of ignition interlock device for up to 1 year.

If you or someone you know is facing a BWI, DWI, or related charge, call our experienced DWI lawyers. Contact us now for a free case evaluation and expert legal advice.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.