LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

What you need to know about drinking while boating

By Andrew Schmertz
Correspondent

There is no shortage of reporters who wouldn’t want to spend a picture perfect work day on the water, so the State Police used this opportunity to remind people if you’re drunk while operating a boat, you’re going up the river — to jail.

“One of the things most people don’t realize is in New Jersey is that if you’re convicted of operating a boat under the influence, you’ll lose your driving privileges along with your boating privileges,” said Sgt. Christopher Jones.

But the message is hard to get out because drinking while boating is technically legal.

“Obviously you can’t drive around the highways of the state with a beer in your hand or a cocktail, but you can do that on the waters of this state behind your boat. Obviously, I’m going to recommend you not do that as long as you’re not impaired. And that legal limit is .08 — the same on the roadways,” Jones said.

“You just have to be responsible. There’s a lot of people out here drinking. There’s a lot of people drinking too much. You kind of have to look out for the other guy when you’re out here yourself. It’s still one of the places you can drink and operate a boat and you can do that, but you have to be responsible and you have to be safe,” said Kenilworth boater Pete Bessett.

But drinking is just one of the dangers on the water. Reckless behavior, not paying attention and venturing into water you’re not familiar with can all spell trouble.

The number one safety measure you can take is this: wear your life jacket. The operator of the boat is required to have a life jacket on board for every occupant, but there is no state law that requires you to wear one.

The State Police say about six people drown every year because they weren’t wearing a lift vest. As you can see, few thought it necessary today.

“They’ll throw them on the dogs, but they won’t actually throw them on themselves. I mean, if you’re thinking more highly of your dog than you are yourself, I mean, what’s your dog going to think if your not there to care for it,” Jones said.

The message from the State Police is easy on the booze and wear a life jacket so there are no troubled waters this weekend.