Everyone knows it is illegal to drive a car while intoxicated, but some people are less clear about the laws surrounding drinking and boating. While it is permissible to have open containers of alcohol on a boat, it is not legal for the boat’s operator to become intoxicated while operating watercraft. Further, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) laws for boating are identical to those for driving a car; if your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, you are over the legal limit.
A boating-while-intoxicated lawyer in Irving, TX at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you fight boating while intoxicated (BWI) charges. Call us today for a free consultation: 214-696-9253.
Penalties for Boating While Intoxicated
According to Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.06, Boating While Intoxicated, “A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a watercraft.” This offense is a Class B misdemeanor — same as a DWI.
Although BWI is a misdemeanor offense, you can still face hefty fines, time behind bars, and loss of your driver’s license. Penalties include:
- First-offense DWI or BWI: Fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail.
- Second-offense DWI or BWI: Fine of up to $4,000 and up to 1 year in jail.
- Third-offense DWI or BWI: Fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in jail. A third BWI is a felony offense in Texas.
Although a first-offense BWI is typically a misdemeanor, if you caused an accident that resulted in serious bodily harm to another person, you may face intoxication assault charges, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in jail.
If you caused an accident that resulted in another person’s death, you may be charged with intoxication manslaughter, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 20 years behind bars.
Refusing a Breath or Blood Test
If you are suspected of boating while intoxicated and you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test, the Texas Department of Public Safety will automatically suspend your driver’s license. You will also receive an automatic license suspension if you were drinking while operating a boat with a 50 horsepower or greater engine. You can appeal the suspension and request an Administrative License Revocation hearing, but these are difficult proceedings. If you have been charged with BWI, it is in your best interest to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
How an Irving, Texas BWI Defense Attorney Can Help
As with most criminal offenses, the appropriate defense and potential penalties depend on the particulars surrounding your case. Our legal team knows how to look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
Errors or Violations of Constitutional Rights
If the police violated your constitutional rights during the arrest or made any errors, it may be possible to have the court throw out certain evidence. For example, an improperly-calibrated breath test could lead to an inaccurately-high BAC reading. If, however, the evidence against you is overwhelming, we will do everything possible to have your charges reduced.
Fight Against Any Findings of Intoxication
The need to show probable cause in BWI cases differs from DWI cases, however. If you are driving a car on Texas roadways, police cannot stop you for just any reason. They must have probable cause to do so. But BWIs are a different story.
In Texas, law enforcement may stop boats for the purpose of performing a “safety check.” In many cases, BWI charges are preceded by a check for life jackets. If during the search for life vests, an officer notices that your eyes appear bloodshot, they may ask you to submit to a breath test.
If, however, you are arrested based on “visible signs of intoxication”, rather than breath test results, fighting the charges is much easier. You could have bloodshot eyes for myriad reasons that do not involve alcohol, such as being tired or having a medical condition.
Negotiate for a Plea Deal
If, however, pleading not guilty is impossible, we may be able to request a plea deal. A plea deal occurs when you plead guilty to a lesser charge and generally results in lesser penalties.
For example, if your first-offense BWI charge was elevated due to aggravating circumstances, such as a previous DWI or BWI, or an excessively-high BAC, we may be able to work with the prosecution to lower your charge to a standard first-offense BWI. You may even be able to avoid a criminal record.
Get Help from a Boating While Intoxicated Lawyer in Irving, TX Today
A criminal record for any type of alcohol-related charge can haunt you for years. The legal team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg, specializes in these cases. We know how the prosecution approaches cases involving DWI and BWI charges.
A boating-while-intoxicated lawyer in Irving, TX will thoroughly review your case before determining the most appropriate legal strategy. Do not attempt to fight BWI charges on your own. We will ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward, and we will remain by your side throughout the entire process. People make mistakes; do not make another one by hiring the wrong attorney.
Contact us today at 214-696-9253 for a free and confidential consultation about your case with a boating-while-intoxicated lawyer in Irving, TX.