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How Do a BUI and a DUI Differ in Tennessee?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Knoxville BUI defense lawyerWith the 2022 boating season getting underway, it is time again to start enjoying the many beautiful lakes and streams East Tennessee has to offer. For many, kicking back and relaxing with a couple of beers or other alcoholic refreshment is just part of the fun. But a glance at the statistics shows that fun on the water can turn deadly in a blink—which is what inspired Tennessee’s new boating under the influence (BUI) laws in the first place.

For example, you might not know that:

  • Nearly half of all U.S. boating accidents involve alcohol.
  • Since alcohol affects people’s balance, one in every four boating deaths results from falling overboard and drowning.
  • The risks go up even more at night, as alcohol further impairs night vision and the ability to tell red from green.

Numbers like these prompted Tennessee to enact similar serious penalties for BUI as they already had in place for DUI. But the law for boaters differs in several significant respects from that for drivers. One of the key distinctions is that it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a moving car, but not on a boat.

Other Significant Differences Between BUI and DUI

If you are charged under Tennessee’s BUI law, you should know your rights and be clear on the major differences between our driving and boating laws, such as these:

  • Sobriety field testing is different on the water, since obviously it is often hard to maintain your balance on a rocking boat even while sober. Being subjected to different, more challenging tests that are far easier to fail gives us an excellent ground for challenging their validity.
  • Anchoring is another big distinction from driving. In Tennessee, you can be convicted for a DUI just for being drunk in a vehicle, even if that vehicle is parked. To be found guilty of a BUI charge, on the other hand, you must actually have been operating the boat at the time of your arrest. Your attorney may be able to establish that the boat was really anchored or docked at that time.
  • The type of boat is also a make-or-break factor in the case. The only qualifying vessels under the BUI laws have motors or sails, so if your suspected intoxication violation happened on a paddleboat, canoe, or kayak, you would have a very strong defense.

Contact a Knox County BUI Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a charge of BUI, you want an Knoxville BUI criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced with this growing area of Tennessee law. The Law Office of William F. Evans is familiar with the many unique opportunities this law provides to protect your rights and win you a reduced sentence, a diversion program, or even an outright acquittal. Call The Law Office of William F. Evans today at 423-449-7980 for a free consultation to discuss your case.



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