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Nashville BUI Defense Lawyers

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Tennesseans love the water. It is important for residents and visitors to know that it is illegal for any person to operate any vessel subject to registration while on the public waters of the state and while under the influence of any intoxicant or with a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater.

Going to the lake is a time to relax and unwind with friends. It is also the time of year when Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers are on the lookout for boaters who are under the influence. Around Nashville, there are several lakes and public waters, including Old Hickory Lake, Percy Priest Lake, Cheatham Dam, and the Cumberland River. Officers will be actively looking for intoxicated boaters and will make an arrest if they believe you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Vessels will include every type of watercraft used or being capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. They are not required to be motorized. Yes, you can get a boating under the influence charge (BUI) in a rowboat or canoe.

Arrested for boating under the influence (BUI)? Talk to a Nashville BUI attorney who can protect your rights. Call May McKinney at (615) 265-6383 today.

Tennessee BUI Laws

The laws for BUI are similar to those for DUI, including an implied consent for tests to determine the alcohol or drug content of the person's blood, and a presumed violation at a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater. A violation of the BUI implied consent law results in a mandatory six-month suspension of operating privileges; however, it is not considered a criminal offense. The BUI law also does not apply when the vessel is moored or anchored.

The United States Coast Guard reports that the sun, wind, motion, engine noise, and vibration cause fatigue that accelerates the effect of alcohol, drugs, and even prescription medications, decreasing coordination, judgment and reaction time even faster than if the person were on land. Lack of experience on the part of most recreational boaters also increases the risk of alcohol-related accidents. Most recreational boaters have operating experience equal to that of teenage drivers on state highways. The Coast Guard estimates that over one-third of all boating fatalities involved the use of alcohol. Any boating accident involving serious injury or death requires police to obtain blood samples from all operators and submit the results to the local District Attorney.

Penalties for BUI

The penalties for BUI in Tennessee will vary depending on whether this is the defendant’s first, second, or subsequent offense. Such penalties include:

  • A first-offense BUI is a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine of $250 to $2,500, imprisonment up to 11 months and 29 days, suspension of the privilege to operate a vessel for up to 1 year, mandatory participation in an alcohol safety BUI school, community service, and payment of restitution for physical injuries or personal losses.
  • Second offenses are subject to a fine of $500 to $2,500, imprisonment up to 11 months and 29 days, mandatory suspension of the privilege to operate a vessel for 2 years, community service, and mandatory rehabilitation in an alcohol treatment facility.
  • Third offenses are subject to a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, at least 30 days of confinement, mandatory suspension of the privilege to operate a vessel for a minimum of 3 to 10 years, community service, and mandatory rehabilitation in an alcohol treatment facility.

All first and second offenses are eligible for immediate probation, as well as pretrial diversion programs. Third and subsequent BUI offenders must serve the mandatory minimum 30-day confinement before they are eligible for any probation.

Representing Boaters in Nashville, Franklin, Mount Juliet, Brentwood & Beyond

This summer, enjoy your day at the lake, but remember that boating under the influence is just as serious as driving under the influence and the consequences can be just as dangerous. If you find yourself arrested or otherwise engaged with game wardens or law enforcement regarding a boating accident or alleged incident of boating under the influence, involve an attorney as soon as you can.

May McKinney represents boaters in Nashville and across Tennessee, fighting for their interests inside and outside the courtroom. We know how to deal with BUI charges and use nearly 80 years of collective legal experience to deliver more effective criminal defense counsel.

Call (615) 265-6383 or contact us online for your confidential BUI defense strategy session.

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