Brother O'Mara Tennessee BoatingEarlier this year, in Nicole Young’s The Tennessean article,  Alcohol abuse rises on Tennessee waters, she wrote about the rise in boating under the influence cases (BUI) in Tennessee. 

In 2008, there were over 152 arrests for boating under the influence. It’s no surprise to me, considering the number of lakes we have around Nashville, such as Old Hickory Lake, and Percy Priest Lake.

However, there is a major difference in a boating case verses a DUI case.

The main difference is that a wildlife officer has a right to board your boat under Tennessee laws to inspect boats for registration and safety requirements. A wildlife officer does not have to have probable cause to stop your boat. They simply ask for the safety equipment and soon start a criminal investigation. There are no constitutional safeguards in place regarding illegal search and seizures. Why are there less constitutional safeguards on the lake?

One other distinction is that you can get pretrial or judicial diversion on a boating under the influence case. Also, all counties surrounding the lake have concurrent jurisdiction. So, the police can arrest you and you can be tried in Gallatin, Nashville, Lebanon, or any county that touches the lake.

Image: Brother O’Mara