Boating while intoxicated charges can turn fun on the water into the threat of going to jail. Drunk boating charges carry the same penalties as drunk driving, including jail time, large fines, a driver’s license suspension, and a permanent criminal record.
Will You Go to Jail for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)?
Upon conviction for BWI in Rockwall, you will spend at least three days in jail — more if you have prior convictions or aggravating circumstances, such as an open container.
Boating while intoxicated (first offense) carries Class B misdemeanor charges with the following penalties.
- 3 days to 6 months in jail
- $2,000 fine
- Up to a 1-year driver’s license suspension
For your second BWI conviction, you will face a Class A misdemeanor charge with the following penalties.
- 30 days to 1 year in jail
- $4,000 fine
- Up to a 2-year driver’s license suspension
For your third BWI and beyond, you will face third-degree felony charges with the following penalties.
- 2 to 10 years in prison
- $10,000 fine
- Up to a 2-year driver’s license suspension
In addition to the fines, jail or prison time, and driver’s license suspensions, you can expect the judge to order community service, supervised probation, and attendance of a boating safety course or alcohol abuse program.
You risk facing enhanced charges if you wrecked your boat while under the influence, if you drove your boat in a reckless manner, or if your BAC was 0.15 or higher.
A BWI conviction will also leave you with a criminal record that is not eligible for expunction or non-disclosure, which may interfere with your ability to get a job, rent a house, or get affordable car insurance.
Finally, if you do get a DWI in the future, a boating while intoxicated conviction will count as a prior drunk driving conviction. This means that you would face more severe second offense DWI penalties.
Are There Any Differences Between DWI and BWI?
The statutes classify boating while intoxicated almost identically to driving while intoxicated, with these important distinctions.
- DWI can only occur in a public place, whereas BWI can occur anywhere.
- Having an open container is illegal in the car, but legal on your boat.
- The police need to establish reasonable suspicion before making a traffic stop for DWI, whereas they can stop and board your boat at any time under the auspices of performing a “random safety check.”
- Texas recently changed the procedure used to conduct BWI field sobriety testing. Previously, the statutes required this testing to take place on land. Now the police can conduct field sobriety testing on the water using the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) protocol for seated standardized field sobriety testing.
Otherwise, BWI and DWI share the same penalty structure for fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension.
How Does Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Affect Your Driver’s License?
Conviction for DWI can cost you your driver’s license for six months to two years — and so will conviction for BWI.
An arrest for either of these crimes triggers the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process, overseen by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS).
At the time of arrest for boating while intoxicated, the police will take your driver’s license and issue Form DIC-25, which allows you to drive for 15 days. During that time, you must request that TxDPS schedule your ALR hearing.
TxDPS will formally suspend your driver’s license if you have not scheduled your hearing by the end of the 15-day period. This suspension will stand even if the court dismisses your BWI case.
Your BWI lawyer will represent you at the ALR hearing, where you will give testimony under oath. The arresting officer will also give sworn testimony. At the end of the hearing, the administrative law judge will rule on whether your license suspension stands.
If you do lose your driver’s license, your lawyer can petition the judge for an occupational license, which permits you to drive to and from work or school, to buy groceries etc., and to important personal appointments.
Get Help from a BWI Lawyer in Rockwall
To protect your legal rights and fight boating while intoxicated charges, you need a BWI lawyer from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg on your side.
Randall can identify weaknesses in the evidence against you and use that as leverage to negotiate with the prosecutor for a reduction or dismissal of your charges. Or, if necessary, Randall can build a strong case and defend you in court.
Randall Isenberg has spent over three decades as a criminal defense attorney, chief felony prosecutor, and state judge. His knowledge and insight make him uniquely suited to represent clients facing DWI and BWI in Rockwall.
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg offers a free, no-obligation case review to clients facing criminal charges. This allows you to ask questions and make important decisions about your future. Do not risk your future by trying to fight your charges alone.
Call us today at 214-696-9253 to schedule an appointment with a Rockwall BWI lawyer.