Boating while intoxicated (BWI) is a Class B misdemeanor, according to Texas Penal Code Section 49.06. A first-time conviction for a BWI comes with the possibility of jail time, ranging from 72 hours to 6 months. The details of your situation will determine the outcome of a BWI charge, including the circumstances under which you were arrested, your level of intoxication, and the age of other passengers.
How likely jail time is for a first BWI depends on the circumstances of your situation and the decision of the judge that presides over your case.
Possible Penalties for a BWI Conviction
In the legal world, a misdemeanor is a crime that is considered less serious than a felony. However, Texas does not view BWI charges lightly, and issues a variety of consequences for those found guilty of this offense.
The maximum penalties for a first-time BWI conviction include:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of $2,000
- Forfeiture of your driver’s license for up to a year
If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .15 or higher during or after the time of your arrest, then you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
Penalties for a Class A misdemeanor conviction may include:
- A fine of up to $4,000
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Suspension of your license for up to 2 years
If you have been charged with a BWI, whether it is your first offense or not, you may want to consider working with a criminal defense lawyer. Subsequent convictions can lead to longer jail time, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Understanding BWI Laws
The punishment for BWI is generally viewed the same as operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated—both crimes are Class B misdemeanors, but could be elevated depending on your BAC at the time of the arrest.
You may be charged with a BWI if:
- There is a reasonable suspicion that you have been operating a boat;
- You appear to be legally intoxicated; and
- A breathalyzer, blood test, or both confirm that your BAC level is .08 or greater; or
- You refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test; or
- A marine safety enforcement officer determines that you failed a field sobriety test.
A conviction for this type of crime has more than just legal consequences; it can have far-reaching impacts on other areas of your life as well.
Secondary Consequences of a BWI Conviction
A BWI charge or conviction can create a ripple effect of negative consequences that permeate both your professional and personal lives.
Some secondary consequences of a BWI conviction could include:
- Loss of your job
- Loss of assets that you require a steady income to retain, such as a home or car
- Damage to your reputation, which may harm your standing in the community
- An increase in your insurance premiums
- A need to explain your conviction on various applications, such as those that may determine your ability to obtain housing or a loan
- The need to rely on public transportation, ridesharing services, cabs, or other methods of travel
Texas takes BWI charges very seriously. A conviction can change your life. Consider how a lawyer may be able to help you navigate the legal process and implement a plan of action to promote your best interests.
Get Help From a Texas Boating While Intoxicated Lawyer Today
If you are facing a BWI charge and concerned about how likely jail time is for a first BWI, a lawyer may be able to perform many services to aid in your situation.
A lawyer may be able to:
- Inform you of strategies generally taken by prosecutors aiming for a BWI conviction
- Negotiate for a plea deal that reduces your jail time or fines
- Collect evidence that shows your BWI charge is unjust or unwarranted
- If necessary, argue in your defense at trial
- Defend your rights and serve as your legal advisor throughout the duration of your case
You do not have to fight your impending charges alone. There are options available.
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg Can Help
Our team understands the gravity of a BWI charge. When you work with us, our goal is to provide responsive legal assistance that defends your case. We understand what the implications of a BWI charge can have on your life and want to do what we can to help during this stressful time.
Call our team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today at (214) 696-9253 for a free consultation.