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New Hampshire Boating Safety on 4th of July

By Alex Spadinger

Summer is here, and the Fourth of July is near which means people are ready to hit the waters of New Hampshire to enjoy swimming, fishing and boating. With the holiday approaching, it’s a good time to remember to stay sober when operating a boat – just like a car.

New Hampshire has its own definition of what operating a watercraft means. The state defines boating for purposes of the boating under the influence statute, as “every type of watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.” Under the statue, this means anything from an ocean-going yacht to a rowboat. So one way to remember is to know that if it can float, then don’t operate it if you have been drinking or doing drugs. Boat sober.

As with a motor vehicle, New Hampshire uses the same standard of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above to define operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs – both prescription and illegal. It is important to remember that is it not necessary for police to have a chemical test in order to convict you of DUI.

New Hampshire classifies boating under the influence as a Class B Misdemeanor. In New Hampshire a person convicted of boating while intoxicated is subject to stiff penalties including the loss of driving privileges. A person convicted of a first offense boating under the influence charge in New Hampshire faces a $500.00 fine, a loss of driving privileges for a minimum of 9 months, loss of boating privileges for 1 year, and the conviction also becomes a permanent part of their driving record. New Hampshire imposes increased penalties based on aggravating factors. Aggravating factors include causing a boating accident, attempting to evade law enforcement, having a passenger under the age of 16 or blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit.

In additional to potential criminal penalties, boating under the influence puts you, your passengers and others at risk. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that alcohol is the primary contributing factor in boating crashes that result in death.

So remember, even on the water designate a sober driver. It can make a difference and maybe even save a life. Have a great holiday!