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Lannom Williams Law Group - Providing criminal defense and civil trial practice for Wilson County, Tennessee

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Lebanon, TN 37087
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Boating Under the Influence -- Your Rights and Consequences

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“Keep it within the navigational beacons.”

                                    It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere- Jimmy Buffett


I represent several people every year who have been accused of Boating Under the Influence. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has cracked down on the offense and may be watching you on your next visit to the lake or river. No matter if its Percy Priest, Center Hill, Old Hickory, or Cordell Hull lakes or the Cumberland or Tennessee River, before heading out in the boat you should know your rights concerning this law and the consequences thereof.

Boating Under the Influence can be found under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 69-9-217. Under this section of the law, there are three main areas of focus.

1.     The vessel you are operating must be a vessel subject to registration or a commercial vessel.

2.     You must be navigating public waters

3.     You must be under the influence of some intoxicant (.08 Blood Alcohol Content)

With relative leeway, TWRA often stops vessels for what they term as Safety and Registration stops. Tennessee Code Annotated Section 69-9-220 states that TWRA has the authority to stop and board any vessel subject to this chapter. This chapter encompasses every regulation provided by the United States Coast Guard as to the safety of your vessel. Basically, if your vessel is subject to registration and on public waters in Tennessee, TWRA may try to stop you for a safety and regulation check.

Upon being stopped, the TWRA officer can then arrest you without a warrant if he believes that you are Boating Under the Influence. After being arrested, the officer will then ask you to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of your blood. The legislature has deemed that when you navigate a vessel in accordance with the above three factors that you have automatically consented to give blood upon reasonable grounds that the officer believes you’re to be impaired. You do have the right to refuse this invasive test, but you may be subject to losing your boating privilege for Six Months.  

Boating Under the Influence is a Class A Misdemeanor- that is the misdemeanor with the highest penalties. The consequences for Boating Under the Influence are serious and should not be taken lightly. Below are the current consequences:

·       1st Offense- Fine $250 up to $2,500. Maximum jail sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail. In addition to the fine and jail time, the Court may order your boating privilege to be suspended for one year.  

·       2nd Offense- Fine $500 up to $2,500. Maximum jail sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail. Under a 2nd Offense, the Court may suspend your boating privileges for two years.

·       3rd or Subsequent Offenses-Fine $1,000 up to$5,000 and in the discretion of the Court, jail time not to exceed eleven months and twenty-nine days. The Court is mandatorily required to enforce a jail sentence of 30 days to serve for these multiple offenses. Boating privileges may be suspended for three years up to ten years.

Those accused of Boating Under the Influence have the same rights as those accused of any other crime. We are protected by the Constitution and our office will diligently and fiercely seek to provide you with the greatest protection that the law provides. Call our office today if you are confronted with this offense

In defense of citizens accused,

Frank Lannom

137 Public Square Lebanon, TN 37087
Via Phone: (615) 444-2900 Via Facsimile: (615) 444-6516 Toll Free: (866) 820-4457


511 Union Street, Suite 1850 Nashville, TN 37219
Via Phone: (615) 313-3999

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