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Can the state really prosecute people for drunk boating?

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Uncategorized

Boating is a popular summertime activity in Tennessee. Some people own houses on lakes where they keep boats tethered to docks. Others may transport their boats on trailers to nearby lakes for fishing excursions or a water skiing adventure with their children.

Those who intend to spend a sunny day out on the open water may pack food and beverages to enjoy on their outing. Alcoholic beverages, including chilled beers, are popular among those enjoying some aquatic recreation during the summer.

It is easy to let a few cold drinks become a few too many. People sometimes take for granted that they can avoid detection and consequences out on the open water. Is it true that Tennessee may prosecute people for impaired boating?

Drunk boating is against the law

The same basic rules apply when operating a boat as when operating any other vehicle with an engine. Specifically, people should not continue boating if they notice impairment caused by alcohol. They are also in violation of the law if they operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.

Local police departments and state agencies have vessels of their own that they can take out onto the water to intervene in suspected cases of drunk boating. They typically screen anyone involved in a boating incident for signs of impairment. They may also patrol parking areas and arrest those they encounter coming out of the water while clearly under the influence.

Impaired boating is a serious concern for those accused. A guilty plea could lead to big fines and potentially also incarceration. The penalties for impaired boating include up to $2,500 in fines as possibly as long as 11 months and 29 days in jail for a first offense. The penalties increase for subsequent offenses.

What looks like drunk boating like not be a crime

There are many situations, including when someone experiences heat exhaustion or has unusual medical challenges, that could lead to an inappropriate arrest for impaired boating. Knowing the law is the first step toward consistently complying with it. It can also help those facing criminal charges determine if they can avoid a conviction.