What Are the Consequences of a Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Charge in Texas?
Now that we are easing into the springtime and soon into summer, more people will be out enjoying the warm weather. Many Texans enjoy spending time out on the water on their boats or other watercraft when the weather is nice, but what starts as a good time can turn into a serious problem if you are drinking while you are operating your boat. Just like driving while intoxicated (DWI), boating while intoxicated, also referred to as a BWI, can carry serious implications. Anyone facing a BWI charge in Texas should consult with a knowledgeable lawyer to discuss their options.
What Constitutes a BWI Charge?
Everyone has heard at some point that the legal limit for the amount of alcohol in your blood is 0.08 percent. If you have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) above this limit, you are considered to be intoxicated. The same limit also applies to those who are operating a boat. You will be considered to be boating under the influence if you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, or if you have lost your normal mental and/or physical capabilities because of an intoxicating substance.
Unlike with motor vehicles, the open container law does not apply to boats and other types of watercraft. This means your passengers can have open containers of alcohol aboard the boat while it is in operation -- you simply cannot be under the influence if you are operating it.
Penalties for a BWI Conviction
In most cases, first-time BWI offenders will face a Class B misdemeanor criminal charge. However, this charge can be elevated to a more serious charge under certain circumstances, such as if there was an injury or death resulting from the BWI incident.
In Texas, Class B misdemeanors carry a potential jail sentence of a minimum of 72 hours, up to 180 days, or around six months, in addition to up to $2,000 in fines. If you cause serious bodily injury or death to another person, you could face a third- or second-degree felony, respectively. Third-degree felonies come with a potential of up to 10 years in prison, while second-degree felonies come with a potential of up to 20 years in prison. Both charges carry a minimum term of two years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Our Texas Boating While Intoxicated Defense Attorney is Here to Help
A fun day on the lake can turn into a serious criminal charge if you are not careful. If you have been arrested for or charged with BWI, you should immediately speak with a San Antonio, TX BWI defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock, we want to keep you behind the wheel and avoid a conviction at all costs. To begin discussing your case, call our office today at 1-888-SAM-LOCK to schedule a free consultation.