Tennessee is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities. With the summer season approaching, many people take advantage of the warm weather as a time to relax on the water. Those who own a boat should be mindful, however, that there is a limit to how much one should be drinking while operating a boat. According to the Tennessee Boating Incident Statistical Report, there were 113 reported boating incidents in 2018. Of that total, 15 were caused by reckless boating, and six were reported as specifically being caused by alcohol impairment. Like driving, the legal blood alcohol content limit is 0.08 percent, and anyone who operates a boat over that limit can be charged with a boating under the influence violation.
How Is Boating Regulated in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, safe boating is enforced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Officers with the TWRA are charged with assisting any vessel with trouble and making sure all boaters are operating their vehicles appropriately. At any time, a TWRA officer has the right to board a boat he or she believes to be operating improperly. If the officer believes the driver of the boat is under the influence of alcohol, he or she can conduct a field sobriety test, just as if the driver was in a car.
The driver of the boat may refuse a field sobriety test, but that driver risks losing his or her boating license for as much as six months. Since the test would be completed on the boat, many drivers refuse the test, because the conditions can be unstable depending on the roughness of the water.
How is BUI Punished in Tennessee?
A TWRA officer also has the right to arrest anyone immediately under the suspicion of boating while intoxicated. If this happens, a person will face a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
A fine of up to $2,500 for first and second offenses
A fine of up to $5,000 for subsequent offenses
Possible jail time of up to one year
Possible loss of boating license for a period of 1-10 years
Contact a Jacksboro, TN Boating Under the Influence Lawyer
A good defensive strategy against boating under the influence charges is to look into the nature of the arrest and make sure your rights were not violated in any way. If you or someone you know are facing BUI charges, hire a knowledgeable attorney from the Law Office of William F. Evans to investigate your case and build a strong defense. To schedule a free consultation with a Campbell County BUI attorney, call 423-449-7980.