An idiot in a jet boat hit my jet ski last weekend. I received a broken leg as a result. The TWRA officer said that the driver of the jet boat was going to have to submit to a test to see if he was under the influence of alcohol. Can he be charged with drunk driving a boat?
Yes, if his blood level of alcohol is .08% or more. Under Tennessee law, blood-alcohol content may be taken from all vessel operators involved in an accident where death or serious injury occurred. Failure to consent to testing is a separate offense and may result in suspension of vessel operating privileges for six months.
Conviction for operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol will result in fines of up to $2,500 on the first offense, $2,500 on the second offense and $5,000 for the third offense. A jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days may also be imposed for any conviction and operating privileges may be suspended from one to ten years.
A boat operator who hurts someone while under the influence of alcohol is negligent per se, that is, negligent as a matter of law. Thus, they can be sued for damages suffered by you because of the incident.
Most boat operators have liability insurance that will be available to pay a settlement or judgment in the boat operator is found to have negligently injured someone while operating a boat.