In University Park, boating while intoxicated (BWI) charges carry the same penalties as drunk driving, including substantial fines, potential jail time, and a mark on your criminal record. You could even lose your driver’s license for up to two years.
A boating while intoxicated (BWI) lawyer in University Park from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you. We offer a free case review to help you learn more about your options. For a free consultation, call 214-696-9253 today.
Penalties for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)
You can face BWI charges while operating any type of watercraft as long as it has propulsion other than water current. This means you can face boating while intoxicated charges while operating a motorboat or sailboat, waterskiing, or riding a jet ski or another type of personal watercraft.
The potential penalties for a BWI conviction are as harsh as those for drunk driving.
Unfortunately, if the police or prosecutor offer to waive jail time in exchange for a guilty plea, you may believe you are getting a good deal. In fact, pleading guilty to BWI charges is no different than pleading guilty to DWI charges. In addition to other issues, this means that, should you get arrested for DWI in the future, it will count as a second offense.
A first-offense BWI carries Class B misdemeanor charges, punishable as follows:
- $2,000 monetary fine
- Up to 6 months in jail
- A potential 1-year suspension of your driver’s license
A second-offense BWI carries Class A misdemeanor charges, punishable as follows:
- $4,000 monetary fine
- Up to 1 year in jail
- A potential 2-year suspension of your driver’s license
A third-offense BWI carries third-degree felony charges, punishable as follows:
- $10,000 monetary fine
- 2 to 10 years in prison
- A potential 2-year suspension of your driver’s license
You might also need to pay court costs and fees and attend an alcohol safety course. You will face the potential of supervised probation, community service, and court-ordered substance abuse treatment. You may also have to install an ignition interlock on your vehicle at your own expense.
Finally, just as you would with a DWI conviction, you will have a criminal record, which can prevent you from obtaining car insurance, being hired at a job, renting a house, or holding professional licensure.
How Boating While Intoxicated Affects Your Driver’s License
Like a DWI arrest, a BWI charge triggers an administrative process called the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) proceeding. The ALR process takes place concurrently with, but separate from, the criminal aspects of your case.
When the police charge you with BWI, they will seize your driver’s license and issue you a form that serves as a temporary license. You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request an ALR hearing. If you fail to request a hearing, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) will automatically suspend your license. You will also relinquish your right to protest the suspension of your license.
The ALR hearing has the potential to influence your criminal case, as the prosecutor can use any testimony you provide against you. However, our legal team can gain invaluable insight into your criminal case by obtaining the prosecutor’s evidence as a part of the ALR process.
Benefits of Working With a Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Lawyer in University Park
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg provides aggressive criminal defense for individuals facing BWI charges in University Park. We will protect your legal rights and ensure you understand your options.
Our services to you include:
Investigating and Documenting Your Case
We will investigate your case and obtain evidence to help us build a defense. We will look for any mistakes made by police as well as violations of your legal rights.
Negotiating for Reduction or Dismissal of BWI Charges
We will use any errors or weaknesses in your case as leverage for negotiating with the prosecutor to drop or reduce your charges. If we fail to succeed in this endeavor, we will discuss your options and, if appropriate, recommend taking your case to court.
Representing You at Your ALR Hearing
We will schedule your ALR hearing, obtain evidence, and subpoena witnesses to provide testimony. We will make the case against license suspension but, if the judge chooses to suspend your driver’s license, we have the option of filing an appeal. We can also request that the court issue you an occupational license.
We will be there throughout the process, providing the answers you need and handling every aspect of your case.
How Boating While Intoxicated Differs From DWI
Although BWI and DWI charges have many similarities, they differ in several important ways. Specifically, you have fewer legal rights with BWI than you do with DWI charges.
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Reasonable Suspicion to Board Your Boat
Police must have reasonable suspicion of intoxication to pull you over in a car. However, they can come aboard watercraft any time to conduct a safety check. If you have open containers of alcohol on board (which is legal), that can provide sufficient probable cause for your arrest on BWI charges.
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Allowed Locations for BWI Arrest
To violate the Texas DWI statutes, you must operate a motor vehicle in a public place while statutorily impaired. For BWI, no such distinction applies.
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Field Sobriety Testing for BWI
The field sobriety testing used for drunk driving differs significantly from procedures used in BWI incidents. To account for the instability boating can cause, police administer BWI field sobriety tests while you remain in your seat.
We develop criminal defense strategies in response to the facts of your case. However, much like drunk driving cases, we will carefully evaluate the validity of chemical BAC testing. We will also carefully examine how the police established probable cause for arrest. Errors made during field sobriety testing may offer a viable opportunity for introducing reasonable doubt in your case.
See How a Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Lawyer in University Park Can Help You
To let you know how a boating while intoxicated lawyer in University Park can help you, the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg provides a free consultation for individuals facing BWI charges.
Contact us today at 214-696-9253.