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Boating accident leads to drunk driving charge

In New Hampshire the offenses and penalties for driving under the influence of a car and a boat are in general very similar. In a very recent boating accident, the New Hampshire Marine Patrol arrested a man for drunk driving and felony boating while intoxicated. This is the equivalent of driving while under the influence, but it is elevated to a felony due to an injury occurring as a result of the drunk operation of the boat.

The police say that the man had a person with him who was water skiing when the skiier was struck with the propeller of the boat and seriously injured. The injured man was the cousin to the accused boat owner. Special resources were needed to fly the injured person to a medical center in a neighboring state. The pair were reportedly boating on Baxter Lake in Rochester when the propeller struck the victim. With few details reported, it is unknown whether the accused was doing something careless prior to the accident.

The boating laws also require a blood alcohol reading of .08 percent to convict on a boating while intoxicated charge. All of the main elements of DWI charge must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to convict someone on this crime. Due to the serious penalties and the negative cumulative effect of prior offenses, where there is a potential defense, the accused would be best served by attempting to follow through on developing its use pretrial and at trial.

In this case, the increase of the offense to a felony is based on there being an accident that injured someone. The defendant may be able to get the charges reduced or even dismissed if he can show that the injury was caused by the victim's own negligence and not that of the driver. The news reports of the incident are sparse; a person wanting to make a more determinative answer of whether there was drunk driving and whether that activity caused the injury should obtain the New Hampshire police report issued by the marine authorities and continue from there.

Source: washingtontimes.com, "New Hampshire officials arrest cousin in water skier crash", July 4, 2016

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