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    Drink driving on boats and personal watercraft is policed much the same as drink driving in a motor vehicle.

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      Two women on a jetski

      Drink Driving On A Boat In NSW

      As the weather warms up more people will be taking to the water over summer, but many don’t know the laws regarding drink driving on a boat. Drink driving laws apply to any ‘vessel’ which includes not only boats but jet skis, kayaks, sailboards and kite boards.

      The Law on Drink Driving on A Boat In NSW

      In NSW the laws regarding drink driving on a boat are governed by the Marine Safety Act and the Marine Safety Regulations. These laws are very similar to the rules covering breath testing and alcohol limits for drivers of motor vehicles under the Road Transport Act.

      Testing is basically identical. Random breath testing can be conducted on anyone reasonably suspected of being the operator of a vessel within a two-hour period. Blood samples can be taken in some situations and sobriety assessments can also be conducted by police. You cannot be tested if you are at your home or if the vessel is moored, berthed or anchored.

      Being the operator of a vessel extends beyond the driver of a boat. It also includes the observer of a ski boat; anyone being towed by the vessel and anyone supervising an operator who is under the age of 16. The operator of a vessel must ensure that they remain under their applicable limit which is:

      Category of driver Applicable Limit:
      All operators under 180.00
      Commercial operators over 180.02
      Recreational operators over 180.05

      Penalties for drink driving on a boat in NSW

      OffenceWho it applies toReading 1st Offence2nd Offence
      Novice range PCAOperators of a vessel under 18Above 0.00 but below 0.02$1100
      3mths disqualification
      6mths disqualification
      Special range PCAOperators of a vessel under 18 and commercial operators 0.02 to 0.049$1100
      3mths disqualification
      6mths disqualification
      Low range PCAAny person operating a vessel0.05 to 0.079$1100
      3mths disqualification
      6mths disqualification
      Mid range PCA Any person operating a vessel0.080 to 0.149$2200
      9mths imprisonment
      6mths disqualification
      12mths imprisonment
      12mths disqualification
      High range PCAAny person operating a vessel0.150 and above$3300
      18mths imprisonment
      12mths disqualification
      2yrs imprisonment
      2yrs disqualification
      Police boat on a harbour

      Will a conviction for drink driving on a boat affect my car or bike licence?

      When the RTA and NSW Maritime Authority merged to become the RMS it became possible to get a combined licence. So, your boat or personal watercraft qualifications are also on your drivers licence. People often ask if the loss of a driver’s licence will affect their boat licence and vice versa. Although the qualifications are held on the one licence the loss, cancellation or disqualification of one will not affect the other. Similarly, a prior conviction for drink driving in a car within the last five years does not count as a prior offence if you were caught drink driving on a boat or other vessel.

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