Friday , January 27 2023
Home / Tennessee DUI News / Tennessee Boating Under the Influence Penalties Increased

Tennessee Boating Under the Influence Penalties Increased

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Dmitry Ivanov.

As of July 1, 2021, the penalties for boating under the influence in Tennessee will be substantially increased.  A number of Tennessee statutes will be amended by Senate Bill 0246 in the Tennessee 112th General Assembly to accomplish these changes.  In essence, the change in the law adjusts the penalties for boating under the influence (BUI, BWI) to align with the current driving under the influence (DUI) penalties.

The Bill summary states:

This bill clarifies that the offenses of vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, and aggravated vehicular homicide may be committed by a person boating under the influence. This bill also revises the penalties for boating under the influence to align with penalties for DUI, as discussed below.

Under present law, it is a Class A misdemeanor for a person or persons to operate a vessel subject to registration or any commercial vessel 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. Upon conviction, the person is:

(1) For a first offense, fined not less than $250 nor more than $2,500, and, in the discretion of the court, confined for a period of time not to exceed 11 months and 29 days. The court may also suspend a person’s privilege to operate a vessel subject to registration on public waters of the state for a period not to exceed one year;

(2) For a second offense, fined not less than $500 nor more than $2,500, and, in the discretion of the court, confined for a period of time not to exceed 11 months and 29 days. The person is also prohibited from operating a vessel subject to registration on the public waters for a period not to exceed two years; and

(3) For a third or subsequent offense, fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000. The person must also serve not less than 30 days nor more than 11 months and 29 days, and is prohibited from operating a vessel subject to registration on public waters for not less than three nor more than 10 years.

This bill revises the penalties for boating under the influence to align with the present law DUI penalties, as follows:

(1) Upon conviction for the first offense, the convicted person will be sentenced to serve not less than 48 consecutive hours nor more than 11 months and 29 days. If the person had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent or more, the person will serve a minimum of seven consecutive days rather than 48 hours;

(2) Upon conviction for a second offense, the convicted person will be sentenced to serve not less than 45 consecutive days nor more than 11 months and 29 days. As a condition of probation, the judge may order the person to participate in a substance abuse treatment program, if the person first completes a clinical substance abuse assessment and serves at least 25 days of the period of incarceration;

(3) Upon conviction for a third offense, the convicted person will be sentenced to serve not less than 120 consecutive days nor more than 11 months and 29 days. As a condition of probation, the judge may order the person to participate in a substance abuse treatment program if the person first completes a clinical substance abuse assessment and serves at least 65 days of the period of incarceration;

(4) Upon conviction for a fourth offense, the convicted person will be sentenced as a felon to serve not less than 150 consecutive days nor more than the maximum punishment authorized for the appropriate range of a Class E felony;

(5) Upon conviction for a fifth offense and for which prior convictions for vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide are to be included, the convicted person will be sentenced as a felon to serve not less than 150 consecutive days and not more than the maximum punishment authorized for the appropriate range of a Class D felony; and

(6) A sixth or subsequent conviction of boating under the influence, including any other applicable prior conviction for vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide, will be a Class C felony under this bill; the person will be sentenced to serve no less than 150 consecutive days and not more than the maximum punishment authorized for the appropriate range of a Class C felony.

Under present law, it is unlawful for any person or persons to operate any vessel subject to registration or any commercial vessel on the public waters of the state while such person’s privilege to do so is suspended. Under present law, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor and, upon conviction of the violation, the offender is fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or is confined for no more than 30 days, or both. This bill makes confinement mandatory instead of discretionary and sets the confinement period to be not less than 48 consecutive hours nor more than six months.”


About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants.  Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.  Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 8th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and six foreign countries.  After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019.  If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at www.tndui.com.

About Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman
Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

If you would like to contact the author, please visit: http://www.tndui.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*