How much do you know about Boating While Intoxicated?
People are constantly being warned about the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, but do you ever stop to consider that the same rules apply for operating a boat?
The majority of people are surprised to find that Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) is in fact illegal in the state of Texas. The limits are the same as those of a DUI, you are not allowed to operate a watercraft with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, or when you have lost your normal physical or mental faculties.
According to a study released by the U.S. Coast Guard, there were upwards of 4,158 accidents involving 626 deaths nationwide in 2015 alone. Alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, and was listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths. The highest number of deaths were in Texas.
According to MADD.org, at just 0.035 BAC, a boater’s ability to operate a watercraft is impaired. It is also important to remember that the environment on a boat – motion, vibration, noise, sun and wind – accelerates a drink’s impairment. If you are drinking, it is important to monitor your consumption and keep it to a minimum.
Important facts to remember about Texas boating laws:
A first conviction carries up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail
A second conviction carries up to a $4,000 fine and 1 years in jail
A third conviction carries up to a $10,000 fine and 2-10 years in jail
License suspension when operating any vessel with an engine over 50 horsepower.
The jail time and fines can be probated and the Judge can require you to perform other probation related conditions such as classes, treatment, volunteer hours, MADD programs, etc.
Unlike in a DUI stop, Texas law does not require that an officer of the law have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop you while you are boating on Texas waters. Officers may board your watercraft at any time for safety and security reasons.
It is important to remember that in the case of a BWI, a watercraft is considered any motorized craft that a person can be carried on over water. This excludes rowboats, kayaks, inner tubes and canoes, as long as they are propelled by human power.
If you or someone you love has been stopped for a BWI, it is important you contact an attorney right away, in order to protect your rights, and to help prevent the loss of your boating privileges. The Carlson Law Firm has a team of dedicated attorneys who are extremely skilled in the field of criminal defense. Contact on of our offices today for your free consultation.