Penalties for BUIs are increasing

Summer is prime time for Tennessee friends and families to go boating. However, mixing alcohol with a day on the water is a risk. Individuals could now face criminal charges for boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) that are equivalent to punishments for DUIs.

Here is what boaters should know about this increasing risk out on the water.

What does the law say about BUIs?

There are a few critical details to know about the rules regarding boating under the influence. Particularly, you should understand that:

  • Implied consent applies: Like implied consent laws on the roads,  the rules of implied consent still apply on the water. This means that when you obtain your boating license, you give your consent to submit to chemical tests if law enforcement suspects you of operating a boat while under the influence.
  • The penalties are serious: A BUI conviction can lead to serious penalties, including $2,500 in fines, mandatory jail time, and a potential jail sentence up to 11 months and 29 days.

These charges – and the penalties – should not be taken lightly. This is especially true now with the consequences for a BUI matching those of a DUI.

The penalties keep increasing

It seems that BUIs are taking priority on lawmakers’ radars.

Back in 2021, lawmakers voted to substantially increase the penalties for BUIs. The penalties listed above are now on par with a first-time DUI offense.

Then, in July of this year, a new law went into effect that significantly increases the penalties for a second charge. Essentially, DUIs and BUIs are now closely related.

This new law made it so a previous BUI on your record is now the same as a prior DUI conviction, and vice versa. For example, if you have a previous BUI on your criminal record, receiving a second will leave you facing nearly the same penalties as you would for a second DUI offense.

This includes higher fines, more jail time and license revocation for a second BUI – or a first-time BUI with a previous DUI.

On the road or the water – beware

Now, whether you are behind the wheel of a boat or a vehicle, the consequences of operating under the influence of alcohol are steep. It is important to be aware of this risk, so you can prepare for a day out on the water, protect your rights, and avoid the steep consequences of a BUI.

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