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New Tennessee BUI Law Means Harsher Penalties if Convicted

Posted on in DUI/DWI/BUI

knoxville bui lawyerThe “official” start of summer is just weeks away and Knox County residents are busy making their summer plans. Included in many people’s plans are boating and personal watercraft activities. However, there is often alcohol consumption involved in those activities, and that consumption can result in the day ending in a boating under the influence (BUI) charge. A new BUI law was recently signed into law by the governor that now aligns penalties for BUI with the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Tennessee.

State Offense

In Tennessee, just as in most states, the laws for drinking and operating a boat are similar to drinking and driving a vehicle. Any boat operator who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more is considered over the legal limit and can be charged with BUI.

If you are charged with a BUI in Tennessee, it will typically be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for conviction are:

  • First offense – The boat operator can be sentenced to up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of between $250 to $2,500, and up to a one-year suspension of boating privileges.

  • Second offense – The boat operator faces up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, $500 to $2,500 in fines, and a two-year suspension of their boating privileges.

  • Third offense – If the boat operator is convicted on a third or subsequent offense, they face a minimum of 30 days in jail, up to 11 months and 29 days, a fine of between $1,000 to $5,000, and a three- to five-year suspension of boating privileges.

In addition to the above potential sentences, a judge can also order a person convicted of BUI to perform community service as part of their sentence. If the conviction is for a second or subsequent offense, there is also a mandatory requirement of participating in a substance abuse treatment program.

Federal Offense

Many people do not realize that boating under the influence is also a federal offense. If a boat operator is stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard and suspected of being under the influence, they can be charged with federal BUI. If they are found guilty, they face a $1,000 fine, with criminal penalties as much as $5,000. Depending on the circumstances, the boat operator could also face jail time. If the Coast Guard chooses not to charge the boat operator with federal BUI, they will most likely turn the operator over to state or local authorities for prosecution.  

Contact a Knox County BUI Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with BUI, or any other driving under the influence charge, you need aggressive legal representation in order to ensure the best outcome possible based on the circumstances of your case. Call Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Lawyer at 865-281-1000 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a dedicated Knoxville DUI defense lawyer.

 

Sources:

https://www.madd.org/tennessee/2021-road-to-law-bui-bill-hb0679-sb0246/

https://www.boatus.org/alcohol-and-boating/

 

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