What to Know About Boating Under the Influence

Maritime Injuries Sep 16, 2020

Tennessee is one of the nation’s leading states offering recreational waterways,” according to state government officials.  Many people either work aboard a vessel (such as a barge) or enjoy recreational boating in Tennessee ports and waterways each year.  Unfortunately, some engage in a very dangerous activity known as “boating under the influence” or BUI, which can cause serious bodily injuries to those impacted by it. It bears mentioning that all 50 U.S. states have laws regarding alcohol consumption and operating a boat. 

Below is some important information that our Tennessee barge accident lawyer wants you to consider regarding boating (or, in some cases, barging) under the influence. 

What Do Most State Laws Say About Boating Under the Influence (BUI)?

In several states, the laws that regulate drinking and operating a boat or vessel are similar to those associated with drinking and driving a motor vehicle. It is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater in most states. The same limit is usually true for operating any other vessel. This is partly because, in 1998, President Clinton advocated for the establishment of a federal standard to define what is considered legal intoxication, recommending .08% BAC level as the standard.  

Following President Clinton’s initiative, several federal bills were passed, some of which would cut funding for states that did not adopt this measure.  Accordingly, all states have formally adopted .08% BAC as the standard to identify legal intoxication.  Some states have adopted additional, more stringent laws, such as a lower legal limit for commercial vehicle drivers such as truck drivers. 

Operating a boat or vessel under the influence is a serious offense.  Alcohol impairs cognitive abilities and can affect balance, leading to severe injuries and sometimes even death. Each state has penalties for BUI offenses, some of which may include loss or suspension of a boating license, fines, criminal charges, loss of driving privileges, and more.  

What Are Tennessee’s BUI laws?

Tennessee law prohibits operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) with a BAC of .08% or greater.  Tennessee defines “vessel” to include various types of watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. This may include barges, boats, canoes, etc.  Penalties for a BUI in Tennessee could include monetary penalties, boating privilege suspension, or even jail time. 

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides some helpful information about boating regulations and safety including, but not limited to, the following:

Unfortunately, many people do not follow Tennessee’s BUI laws and do operate a vessel, such as a boat or a barge, under the influence, causing accidents such as collisions with other boats or falling overboard, where individuals sustain injuries such as paralysis, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, amputated limbs, and more.   

A Tennessee Barge Accident Lawyer Can Help Advise You On Your Boat or Barge Injury Claim

Parties injured from a BUI accident on a boat or barge may be able to recover for a variety of different damages including, but not limited to: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Lost wages 
  • Cost of rehabilitation 
  • Economic loss  
  • Pain and suffering 

If you are hurt in a barge or boating accident caused by an act of BUI in Tennessee, an experienced Tennessee barge accident lawyer can evaluate your case to determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.  

The Willis Law Firm helps workers and their families who suffer from maritime-related injuries.  Do you have questions about maritime law and the remedies available for yourself or a loved one injured in a BUI accident in Tennessee?  If so, give us a call at 1-800-468-4878 email us through our online webform.

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Houston, Texas 77056

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