Being out on the water is a part of life year-round in the Lone Star State. Boaters in Texas can enjoy hundreds of lakes, rivers, and streams. With so many bodies of water and warm and sunny weather most of the year, Texas is one of the most popular states in the nation for boating. But while Texas is full of boating opportunities, it is important for people to boat safely and responsibly. Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol endangers your life and the lives of others.
If you drink alcohol while boating in Texas, you should be aware of the fact that you can be stopped and charged with boating while intoxicated. While having open containers of alcohol on a boat is legal, drinking while boating is against the law; marine law enforcement officers can arrest you for boating while intoxicated. Boating while intoxicated (BWI) is a very serious charge in the Lone Star State, so having an understanding of what constitutes this crime in the state of Texas is crucial when it comes to avoiding an arrest or fighting back against an unwarranted BWI charge.
BOATING WHILE INTOXICATED LAWS
Texas defines BWI in the Texas Penal Code Section 49, stating that an arrest and charge for the crime can result when someone does not have “the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body” and so is determined to be intoxicated while operating a watercraft. In light of this, Texas marine law enforcement officers can arrest anyone they believe to be intoxicated and, as such, a danger to themselves or others while operating a boat or other watercraft. Officers stop suspects and perform a seated battery of standardized field sobriety testing. A BWI charge can be based on a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater (which is the same legal limit for DWI charges against drivers on Texas roads).
PENALTIES FOR BOATING WHILE INTOXICATED
It is illegal to operate a boat while intoxicated in all 50 states. Texas enforces the law and, like every state, has its own unique penalties for those charged and convicted of BWI. Texas law designates each BWI as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the details and circumstances of the arrest, resulting in different penalties.
The most basic penalties are as follows: For a first-time conviction, the law calls for a fine of up to $2,000 and/or jail time of up to 180 days. For a second conviction, the penalty is a fine of up to $4,000 and/or jail time of up to one year. And for a third conviction, there is a fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail time between two and 10 years.
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with BWI in Texas, you should consider contacting an attorney to assist with your case. A professional attorney like Austin, Texas-based Brian Erskine will be able to explain the details of the charges to help you understand what your next steps should be to avoid a conviction. If you find yourself in need of professional legal services to fight a BWI charge, reach out to the counsel at Erskine Law. For experienced and competent handling of your case, contact Brian Erskine today.