Boaters in New York should be aware that they will soon face harsher penalties for operating watercraft while intoxicated thanks to a law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The legislation takes effect in November.
The law allows authorities to link an individual's drunk boating offenses with their DWI offenses while operating other motor vehicles. This means even first-offense drunk boaters will be considered repeat offenders if they have at least one DWI on their driving record. Cuomo said that drunk drivers are a danger whether they are on the road or on the water.
Under the law, judges will consider a drunk boater's entire DWI record over the previous five or 10 years before handing down a sentence for boating while intoxicated. The period of examination will depend on the severity of the drunk boating offense. According to lawmakers, the legislation addresses cases where drunk boaters have received first-offense sentencing even though their motor vehicle licenses had previously been suspended for DWI offenses.
As this law demonstrates, individuals charged with drunk boating or drunk driving in New York can face severe penalties, including heavy fines, the loss of driving privileges and even incarceration. Those arrested for DWI could help their case by invoking their right to remain silent and contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. After reviewing the details of the case, legal counsel may recommend disputing the blood alcohol level or field sobriety tests submitted as evidence. In other situations, it may be better to negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor that reduces charges and penalties if the defendant agrees to plead guilty.
Source: WKBW, "NY judges to consider DWI offenses of drunken boaters," Aug. 17, 2016