How Is Boating Under the Influence Different from a DUI?

//How Is Boating Under the Influence Different from a DUI?

How Is Boating Under the Influence Different from a DUI?

tennessee boating under influence attorney

Criminal Defense Attorney Frank Lannom

How a BUI Differs from a DUI

In Tennessee, a charge of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) shares many features with a charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). However, there are also many differences and knowing your rights and responsibilities while boating is crucial to maintaining your freedom on the water.

What is a BUI?

It is unlawful for any person or persons to operate any vessel subject to registration or any commercial vessel as defined in this section on the public waters of the state while under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on the central nervous system. T.C.A. §69-9-217

Penalties for a Tennessee BUI

Boating Under the Influence is an “A” Misdemeanor. This means that the maximum sentence is 11 months and 29 days. However, multiple convictions can increase the minimum penalty. As a condition of probation, the court can order you to do community service in the form of litter pick-up and mandate participation in an alcohol safety program or even participation in an alcohol treatment program for second or subsequent offenses.

  • BUI 1st offense: There is no minimum jail time for a first offense. That means that the entire sentence may be served on probation. However, the probation must, by statute, be for the entire 11 months and 29 days. You can be fined from $250-$2,500. It’s possible, but not mandatory, for you to lose your boating privileges for 1 year.
  • BUI 2nd offense: There is no minimum jail time for a second offense. That means that the entire sentence may be served on probation. However, the probation must, by statute, be for the entire 11 months and 29 days. You can be fined from $500-$2,500. It’s possible, but not mandatory, for you to lose your boating privileges for 2 years.
  • BUI 3rd offense: A BUI 3rd offense carries a minimum of thirty days in jail. The remaining 10 months and 29 days must be served on probation. You can be fined from $1,000-$5,000. You will lose your boating privileges for 3-10 years. T.C.A. §69-9-219

How Does the State Prove Boating Under the Influence?

First, does the boat qualify? The statute says “any vessel subject to registration.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 69-9-206 defines this as “Every vessel propelled by sail or machinery, or both, upon the waters of Tennessee shall be numbered for identification in accordance with this chapter”.

Qualifies: Anything with a motor, trolling motor, or a sail, for example a speed boat, pontoon boat, jon boat, sailboat.
Does not qualify: canoe, kayak, paddleboard
Exempt: A ship’s lifeboat

Were you “operating” the vessel? It’s okay if the boat was anchored or moored. If you’re floating freely or actually steering, then you’re operating the vessel.

Were you “under the influence” and how will they prove that? Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs): these are the same tests that officers use to determine if someone was driving under the influence and they have to be done on land. They are surprisingly difficult and have complicated instructions. They are very, very easy to fail.

  •  Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: Do your eyes twitch at certain points while following a pen? This can be caused by intoxication or by many other factors, such as common over-the-counter medication.
  •  Walk and Turn: a series of heel to toe steps, counting out loud, but doing it precisely as they say.
  •  One Leg Stand: stand on one leg, point your toe, and follow the officer’s directions to the letter.

The Seated Battery: these tests are specifically for boating and can be done seated while aboard the vessel.seated battery test

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: Do your eyes twitch at certain points while following a pen? This can be caused by intoxication or by many other factors, such as common over-the-counter medication.
  • Finger-to-Nose
  • Palm Pat
  • Hand Coordination
  • Blood or breath tests: If there was eight-hundredths of one percent (.08%), or more, by weight of alcohol in your blood, that’s a violation of the statute. If there was five-hundredths of one percent (0.05%), or less, by weight of alcohol in the blood of the defendant, then there’s no presumption of
    intoxication.

Hire an Experienced Tennessee BUI Attorney

The similarities of BUIs to DUIs mean that you need an attorney who understands the differences and knows how they can help you. Many of the consequences of DUI do not apply to BUI or are not mandatory. There are separate defenses that don’t apply to DUI, and some that do. For these reasons, it’s imperative that you retain sound legal advice and representation to ensure the protection of your rights and prevent consequences that can get very serious very quickly. We will fight to make sure your rights, privacy, and freedoms are protected and do everything in our power to keep you on the water. Contact us for a confidential and free evaluation of your case.

2020-04-27T22:06:50+00:00 April 27th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments