Safer-at-home orders in Tennessee have made this summer a particularly popular time for people to get out on the water and do some boating. This activity allows people to spend time outside, have fun and just get out of the house without putting their health in danger.

However, there are still risks associated with boating, particularly if you decide to kick back and have some drinks while you’re on the water.

BUI laws in Tennessee

It is unlawful to operate a boat if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher. This is the same BAC level in place for driving a car.

Anyone convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) in Tennessee can face harsh penalties. These penalties include fines of between $2,500 and $5,000, a possible jail sentence of one year and probation. Motorists could also lose operating privileges for at least a year.

So, while you may crack open a beer while you’re on the water, be aware that if your BAC is over the legal limit, the consequences can follow you on land.

Avoiding a BUI this summer

If you have plans to fish, waterski or just spend time on the boat in the coming weeks, you can take steps to stay safe and avoid a BUI charge.

First, understand that drinking on a boat can affect people differently than when they drink normally. The wind, sun and heat can make people feel more intoxicated, as can the rocking of the boat. And while these elements may not raise your BAC, they can increase feelings of impairment.

Second, just as you would on land, you should have a sober driver on board. The rules for legally operating a watercraft are less rigid than operating a car or truck, so someone as young as 12 may be able to take over if he or she has proper certification and training.

Finally, know that if you are stopped while boating, you still have rights and legal options to defend yourself against criminal charges. Familiarize yourself with boating rules and regulations before your trip so that you can avoid common missteps and violations that could lead to more severe allegations.