Operating a Boat While Intoxicated

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.


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