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Arrested for drunk boating in Tennessee?

If you are facing a boating under the influence charge in Tennessee, don't give up hope. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may result in a reduction of the charges, a lessening of the penalties or dismissal of the charges altogether. You can also fight your charges at trial.

In Tennessee, boating under the influence (BUI) is defined as operating any vessel that is subject to registration, including a commercial vessel, on Tennessee's public waterways while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, narcotics, stimulants or any intoxicant. For alcohol, there is a per se blood alcohol content of 0.08%, just as there is for driving a car. Operating a vessel on federal waterways while intoxicated is likewise a federal offense.

What are the penalties for BUI?

The penalties for a first-time BUI can be quite serious, including:

  • Jail time of up to 11 months and 29 days
  • A fine of between $250 and $2,500
  • Loss of your boating privileges for up to a year

For a second offense within 10 years, you face the same penalties but a two-year suspension of your boating privileges.

On a third or subsequent offense within 10 years, you are facing:

  • Jail time of between 30 days and 11 months, 29 days
  • A fine of between $1,000 and $5,000
  • Loss of your boating privileges for between 3 and 10 years

You can also be ordered to pick up litter in public areas as a penalty for this offense. Second and subsequent offenders are also generally required to undergo substance abuse treatment.

With boating season underway, enforcement has stepped up

Last year, there were 113 reportable boating incidents in Tennessee, and Hamilton County had the most such incidents in the state. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), reportable incidents are those involving serious injuries, missing persons or deaths, or those involving property damage of $2,000 or more.

"When we have boating incidents where somebody is hurt or property damage, alcohol is a huge factor. Majority of the time it is involved," said a spokesperson for the Marine Patrol Team.

If you have been charged with boating under the influence, an experienced drunk-driving defense attorney may be able to help you limit the damage. Get a lawyer involved as soon as possible.

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