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What Are the Consequences of Drinking and Boating in Tennessee?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Campbell County boating under the influence attorney

The weather is starting to improve, and people will soon be able to participate in their favorite outdoor activities. Tennessee is rich with bodies of water for everyone to enjoy, whether it is just for an afternoon swim or a day of boating. However, just like on the roads, Tennessee’s waters are protected from those who use controlled substances before operating a watercraft. Boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs or alcohol greatly impairs a driver’s ability to safely maneuver the vessel. BUI is a crime, since boaters who choose to do this run the risk of hurting themselves or others. This is why anyone caught operating a boat while intoxicated can be charged with a misdemeanor offense, which carries significant criminal penalties if convicted.

What Is Tennessee’s BUI Law?

The state of Tennessee forbids those who operate any water vessel to do so while impaired. This includes using any of the following:

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Marijuana

  • Narcotics

  • Stimulants that affect the nervous system

  • Any other type of intoxicant

Tennessee law enforcement officers patrol the waterways just as they do the roadways to keep citizens safe. If they see signs of possible intoxication, such as erratic steering, the boat rocking unsteadily, or visible containers of alcohol aboard, they have the right to make a “traffic stop.” When this happens, the officer must identify who is in charge of operating the boat, and they may administer a test similar to that of a regular DUI stop to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). When someone obtains a boating license, he or she gives implied consent to blood alcohol testing, just like with a regular driver’s license. The officer must advise the driver that if he or she refuses the test, he or she can still be arrested and taken into custody.

What Are the Penalties for BUI?

Refusal to submit to a sobriety test will lead to suspension of the driver’s boating license for an amount of time decided by the court. A BUI charge in Tennessee is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. Much like a regular DUI, punishments increase depending on the nature of the incident as well as the number of previous convictions already against the boater, as shown below:

  • First offense: Up to one year in prison and a fine of between $250 and $2,500; boating privileges suspended for one year

  • Second offense: Up to one year in prison and a fine of between $500 and $2,500; boating privileges suspended for two years

  • Third or subsequent offenses: Up to one year in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000; boating privileges suspended for 3-10 years

The punishments for BUI are severe because this type of reckless behavior could harm or kill innocent victims.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN BUI Defense Attorney

Drinking and driving do not mix, regardless of whether you are operating a car or a boat. Just one conviction of BUI can result in the loss of boating privileges and a criminal record. If you or someone you know is fighting criminal charges related to drinking and boating, you must take it seriously, since the punishments can be severe. That is why it is important to hire a lawyer from the Law Offices of William F. Evans who can build a solid defense on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation with our diligent Campbell County boating under the influence lawyers, call our office today at 423-449-7980.




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