Now that the warmer weather is here, New Jerseyans are starting to head out onto lakes, bays and other waterways in all sorts of boats, large and small.

According to Sgt. Christopher Jones of the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau, about six to 20 people are arrested every year for boating under the influence.

“The other thing that we see a great deal of is warrant arrests for failure to appear in court,” he said.

He explained those arrests take place after someone is stopped for some other reason and their information is checked by the State Police database.

He said there are also “criminal-type arrests, such as assaults, thefts. More commonly the criminal arrests revolve around a disorderly persons, acting lewdly or loudly.”

Boating under the influence carries stiff penalties.

If you’re convicted of operating a boat under the influence, “and your blood alcohol content is .08 percent but less than 1 percent, you can lose your diving privileges for up to three months and you lose your boating privileges for up to one year.”

He added, “In cases where your blood alcohol content is 1.0 or greater, you’ll lose your driving privileges for up to seven months to a year. And for subsequent infractions and higher blood-alcohol concentrations, those penalties would increase.”

There’s a high number of fatalities across the country every year that are attributable to boating under the influence.

Last year, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins died with two other when their boat crashed into a Miami Beach jetty. Authorities say the player had high levels of alcohol and cocaine in his system.

“Coast Guard statistics show it’s roughly 75 percent of all boating accidents involve the use of alcohol, so we want people to recreate upon the waterways of this state safely, always have an operator who is designated not to drink.”

Jones said people who participate in paddle sport activities, like canoeing, knocking and stand-up paddle boarding, must have life preservers and may not be aware that they have to abide by the same navigational rules as other vessels.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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