Many people think nothing of having a few drinks while they are out on the boat on a summer weekend in Fort Worth. However, piloting a boat while drunk is just as dangerous as drinking and driving a car or other vehicle. Texas law allows for boating while intoxicated charges, which might involve jail time, fines, and probation.
If you are facing charges after an arrest for being intoxicated on the water, we can help. Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today at 214-696-9253 to talk to a boating while intoxicated (BWI) lawyer in Dallas- Fort Worth lawyer and learn more about how we can help you defend yourself against these charges, and minimize the impact this type of arrest could have on your future.
What does Texas law say about boating while intoxicated?
Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code establishes both DWI and BWI laws. Police or other officials can arrest you for operating almost any type of watercraft while intoxicated.
If officials stop you out on the water, they can arrest you if:
- They have reason to believe drugs or alcohol are impairing your normal ability to operate the boat, often because of a failed field sobriety test.
- You have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above based on breath, urine or blood testing.
The same refusal laws that apply to motorists also apply to boaters. If you refuse to take a BAC test while driving a boat on a Texas waterway, you will face a driver’s license suspension and other penalties.
What can I expect if the state convicts me of BWI?
The consequences of boating while intoxicated are the same as the penalties you face after a driving while intoxicated conviction. This includes at least 72 hours in jail and an automatic license suspension. You may go to jail immediately following your arrest and serve some or all of this time, or they may release you after processing your information.
A first offense BWI conviction can cost you up to $2,000 and you may spend as many as 180 days in jail.
A second conviction increases penalties up to a maximum of $4,000 and 365 days in jail.
A third or subsequent conviction can carry a maximum $10,000 fine and between 2 and 10 years in jail. It is important to note that Texas also counts DWI convictions in this total, meaning you will receive an amplified sentence if you have previous DWIs.
You may also receive additional jail time if police arrested you after an accident that caused death or serious injury to another person. A BWI accident causing serious bodily injury, sometimes called an intoxication assault, is usually a third-degree felony. Your sentence could include 2 to 10 years of jail time and fines of up to $10,000. A fatal BWI accident often brings manslaughter charges. This is a second-degree felony, which calls for up to 20 years in prison and significant fines.
Because jail time and other penalties can have a major effect on your job, education and family life, you need a skilled Fort Worth BWI lawyer on your side. We can investigate your case and determine if it is possible to get your charges reduced or thrown out entirely.
What do I need to know about the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program?
A BWI driver’s license suspension occurs independently of any criminal charges, as a part of the Administrative License Revocation Program (ALR). The administrative license suspension may last from six months to a year, depending on the facts of your case.
When police arrest you for a BWI offense while driving a motorboat, they will take your driver’s license and issue you a temporary permit. You then have 15 days to request an appeal hearing with an administrative law judge. Give us a call after your arrest, and we can handle the appeals process for you.
If you do not request a hearing during this 15-day period, you lose the right to appeal the revocation and the suspension begins when your temporary permit expires. This usually occurs 40 days after your arrest.
Even if the administrative law judge refuses to lift your revocation, we can often help our clients get an occupational license. This type of license allows you to continue to drive to work or school or run necessary errands.
How can a Fort Worth BWI attorney help me?
One of the best things you can do to get the outcome you desire in a BWI case is to enlist the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. We are familiar with common mistakes police make in BWI arrests, and know how to build a strong defense for our clients after this type of arrest.
Randall, our firm’s founder, was both a chief felony prosecutor and a state district judge, which means we know how the other side works. We can often convince a judge to drop charges, negotiate a mutually beneficial plea agreement, or win an acquittal for our clients.
Call us as soon as possible after your Fort Worth BWI arrest, and let us go to work for you. We can fight for your driving privileges, help you get an occupational license and work to mitigate the effects of other potential penalties. With a strong defense, we can help you get the most positive result possible in your case.
Schedule a free consultation with a Fort Worth BWI attorney today.
At the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg, our staff knows how stressful a BWI arrest can be. We help our clients understand what to expect during the criminal justice process, and put their minds at ease by taking care of their legal and administrative needs.
Call us today at 214-696-9253 to schedule a time for a free case review, and let us get started on your case.