Why do we need this BUI bill?
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) offenses are just as dangerous and deadly as DUI offenses. Yet, by current Tennessee law, they are not treated equally. HB0679/SB0246 would include BUI with the DUI code ensuring that they are! Not only does BUI risk lives on Tennessee waterways, but impaired boaters become impaired drivers when they hit the boat dock, load up, and head home, endangering Tennesseans on our roadways as well. It is unsafe to operate ANY motor vehicle when you are impaired. BUI and DUI are essentially the same offense and should be treated as such.
Just ask Mandy Larson, whose son, Nick Willhoit was killed in a BUI crash in West Tennessee – vehicular homicide from a boat crash is no different than vehicular homicide from a car crash. The results are the same. Jackie David and Alex Otte also know, firsthand, how serious BUI offenses are. They were both seriously injured in crashes on the water. Jackie had to have a spinal fusion surgery on her back and have 2 rods and 12 screws with bolts inserted. Alex was 13 years-old when she was hit in 2010. The crash shattered her jaw, broke her neck and collarbone, shattered both femurs, and lacerated her liver. She also suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (akin to Shaken Baby Syndrome) and was in a coma for 4 days. The prognosis didn’t look good. But, she survived. However, when she woke up, she found that she had lost her right leg.
What can I do to help the BUI bill become a law?
For this bill to become law, we will need your support! On the road to becoming a law, there are several committees through which the bill must pass before it is even eligible to go before the full House and/or Senate to be voted into law. It will likely alternate between committees in the House and committees in the Senate as it moves through the process. Please bookmark this page and follow us on our @MADDTennessee Facebook page for updates about the status of this bill and who we need you to contact to let your voice be heard. YOU can help make this law a reality by emailing committee members and your own legislators telling them that you want them to vote in favor of this bill! Keep reading for instructions on who to contact, when, and even ideas of what to say.
Where is this bill currently in the process?
MADD was working to get the BUI bill passed in 2020 when Covid-19 halted all non-pandemic related legislation progress. Help us ensure it passes in 2021! Below this Road to Law map, which shows where we currently are in the process, you’ll find a link to the committee currently up for review of the bill.
Who do I contact to ask them to vote in favor of this bill and when?
Listed below, under “Committee Member Links” you can see which committee is currently reviewing the bill. Look for our note that says “PLEASE EMAIL THIS COMMITTEE NOW.” Then click the link to get the list of committee members and email each member to ask for their support.
Committee Member Links
Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee – Passed to this committee 2/23/21. Review date TBD. PLEASE EMAIL THIS COMMITTEE NOW.
House Agriculture and Natural Resources Full Committee– Passed to this committee 3/2/21. Review date TBD. PLEASE EMAIL THIS COMMITTEE NOW.
House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee – Review date 3/2/21. Passed.
Senate Judiciary Committee– Review date 2/23/21. Passed with unanimous vote!
What should I say when asking legislators to vote in favor of this bill?
Not sure what to say exactly? We have a sample of text below that you can copy and paste to use in your email if you’d like. Use it as it is, or adjust the wording as needed to personalize it and let the legislator know why this bill means something to you, and why you’d like to see it become law in Tennessee. Just be sure you include bill number, HB0679 (Carr)/SB0246 (Massey), in your email.
Sample Email Text
Dear Sir or Madame,
I am writing to ask you to support HB0679 (Carr)/SB0246 (Massey) regarding BUI law. I believe Boating Under the Influence (BUI) offenses are just as dangerous and deadly as DUI offenses and that they should be treated equally with the same penalties and consequences. I believe that BUI should be included with the DUI code ensuring that they are, and that BUI and DUI offenses would be interchangeable in the eyes of the court where sentencing is concerned. Not only does BUI risk lives on Tennessee waterways, but impaired boaters become impaired drivers who also endanger Tennesseans on our roadways as well. It is unsafe to operate ANY motor vehicle when impaired. BUI and DUI are essentially the same offense and should be treated as such. I hope I can count on your vote in favor of passing this legislation so that it becomes law.