New boating under the influence law brings same penalties as driving under the influence in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – This holiday weekend, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s boating officers will be patrolling area waters on the lookout for impaired boaters as part of what they are calling “Operation Dry Water,” but there is also a new law on the books that will stiffen the penalties for boating under the influence.

“Our BUI law will mirror the DUI law,” explained Capt. Dale Grandstaff with the TWRA. “Everything will be the same. So for the first offense, if you get convicted it will be 48 hours in jail. The only difference is you won’t lose your driver’s license.”

This law also applies to a boating accident that results in injuries and fatalities, meaning an impaired boater can be charged with vehicular assault or vehicular homicide charges.

“If someone has an accident in a boat, the new DUI law will add “vessel” into that to say that if you kill someone with a vessel instead of a vehicle, it’s still going to be the same penalties under this new law,” Grandstaff said.

This holiday weekend, the TWRA’s Operation Dry Water will be on the lookout for impaired boaters, as well as checking for the required safety equipment on your boat.

“If we’re on the water working, what we’re going to look for is we’re going to pull up on a boat where we may observe some type of violation,” explained Grandstaff. “One of the main things we’re going to check is registration of the boat, life jackets; everyone on board needs to have a life jacket, a throwable cushion, and a fire extinguisher. Also, while we’re checking that boat we’re going to see if there’s any impairment.”

Captain Grandstaff state it’s not illegal to have alcohol on the boat, but you should have a designated driver.

“We want everybody to have a good time,” Grandstaff said. “We don’t want to be out there to keep you from having a good time, but we want to keep everyone safe. That’s why we’re going to stop people. That’s why we’re going to check for the drinking, the drugs. If you are deemed impaired, we’re going to arrest you and you’re going to go to jail.”

You can learn more about the new law here.

You can learn more about Operation Dry Water here.

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