Can I Get a DUI For Drinking and Boating in Texas?
It is common knowledge that drinking and driving is illegal and can lead to a DUI. But what are the drinking laws related to boating? In the state of Texas, drinking and boating can lead to a BWI (boating while intoxicated). As the excitement of spring lingers and Texans prepare for warmer weather, it is important to understand the drinking laws while boating in Texas.
What is a BWI?
Just like a DUI charge (driving while intoxicated), a boating while intoxicated, or BWI, charge has similar consequences including license suspension, fines and even jail time. However, there are important differences to remember between drinking laws in a motorized vehicle and a watercraft.
In a car, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol. A driver can be arrested in Texas for having open alcohol in his or her car. But this law does not apply to boating. You can have open alcohol on the boat as long as the boat driver is not over the legal limit of intoxication when driving. Texas law considers someone legally intoxicated when their blood alcohol level (BAC) reaches 0.08 percent or above. A breathalyzer test can be administered on the water by a policing boat to determine a boater’s BAC.
How does a BWI Affect Me?
A BWI can affect you in a few ways depending on whether this is a first, second or repeating offense:
Fines — A first-time offender can end up paying up to $2,000 in fines. A second-time offender may pay up to $4,000 and a repeating offender may pay a $10,000 fine.
Jail — First time, second time and repeating offenders may end up spending up to 180 days, one year, or 10 years in jail or prison, respectively.
Boater’s License Suspension — A BWI can result in your boating license being suspended or revoked.
Driver’s License Suspension — A BWI can also result in a driver’s license suspension.
When choosing to operate a boat in Texas, it is important to understand the state’s unique laws as well as the rules and regulations for each waterway. The Texas Water Safety Act lays out the laws that apply to all public bodies of water in the state and is a good resource to research when deciding to go out for a fun day on a boat. Another good resource for individual lake laws can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Website.
I Was Charged With a BWI. What Now?
Similar to a DUI or DWI charge, boating police need probable cause to pull over your boat and administer a breathalyzer test. There are also many malfunctions that can occur in these tests that may prove an inaccurate BWI charge. The consequences for a BWI can be severe, and it is critical to reach out to a Texas criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer may be able to review the facts of the charge and help navigate a winning defense for your case.
Contact a San Antonio, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
At Law Offices of Sam H. Lock, our skilled San Antonio BWI defense attorney is experienced in supporting those charged with a BWI charge. For a free consultation to review your individual case, call us at 210-226-0965 today.