According to Texas Penal Code Ch 49.06, a person who operates a watercraft (jet skis, motor boat, etc.) while intoxicated commits a Class B misdemeanor. The charge, commonly called “boating while intoxicated” (BWI), carries the following punishment:
- A confinement of between 72 hours and 180 days; and/or
- A fine of up to $2,000.
Exceptions for this classification and punishments are outlined in Texas Penal Code Ch 49.09, “Enhanced Offenses and Penalties.”
Enhanced Offenses and Penalties Outlined in Texas Penal Code Ch 49.09
Under the terms of Texas Penal Code Ch 49.09, boating while intoxicated is a Class A misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement if you were previously convicted of a driving while intoxicated offense (this applies to operating motor vehicles, aircraft, watercraft, or amusement rides).
The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor in Texas is as follows:
- A fine not to exceed $4,000;
- Confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year; or
- Both fines and confinement.
The offense becomes a felony of the third degree if you have been previously convicted of a single offense of Texas Penal Code Ch 49.08, “Intoxication Manslaughter” a similar offense in another state; or if you have been previously convicted two times of “any other offense relating to driving while intoxicated (this again applies to operating motor vehicles, aircraft, watercraft, or amusement rides).
The punishment for a felony of the third degree in Texas consists of imprisonment for a term of between two and 10 years. In addition to imprisonment, a person found guilty of a felony of the third degree may have to pay a maximum fine of $10,000.
What to Do if You Are Arrested for BWI
At any point, law enforcement has the right to board your boat. If they detect alcohol, either by smelling it on your breath or just observing others on the boat drinking alcohol, police are entitled to check your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
These rules are put in place to protect the security and safety of boat drivers, their passengers, and other people in or on the water.
Still, unfair arrests can occur. Some of the environmental factors of driving a boat produce the same symptoms as drinking alcohol—red eyes, for example. The effects of prolonged exposure to heat may impair an individual’s ability to complete a field sobriety test, too.
To protect your rights, you should strongly consider calling a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or BWI lawyer as soon as possible.
A Texas DWI Lawyer Can Ensure Your Rights Are Not Violated
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can represent your legal interests, protecting your rights and freedom in your BWI case.
DWI attorney Randall B. Isenberg formerly served as a prosecutor and state district judge. He knows the law from all angles and can present your boating while intoxicated cases in a way that resonates with all parties.