Boating While Intoxicated
Many people enjoy alcoholic beverages while relaxing on a boat on a nice day in Houston. Some people may believe that the rules for drinking and operating a boat are very different from the rules for operating a car while intoxicated. In reality, the rules are much more similar than some people realize.
Operating any motor vehicle while intoxicated is against the law and anyone who violates that law may be subject to prosecution.
Possible Texas Penalties
The legal consequences for drinking and boating are identical to the penalties for a DWI. Interestingly, a conviction for a BWI can be used as grounds to increase the penalties for any subsequent DWI offenses.
According to the Texas Penal Code, the penalties for this offense are:
- A Class B misdemeanor conviction for a first offense
- A minimum 72 hours confinement in jail
- A $2000 fine
- 180 days in jail
It is important to note that these are the standard penalties for this offense. The circumstances of an individual case can significantly alter the penalties that will be applied in a particular instance. For example, a person may be bailed out of jail before 72 hours have passed and jail time for a first time BWI offense is often probated.
Boating while drunk charges present a unique opportunity for Houston defense attorneys to create a case in favor of their client. Unlike on a roadway, police officers do not need probable cause to stop a motorized water vessel. They are allowed to stop any such vessel at any time in order to perform safety inspections. This means that an officer could stop a motorized boat and come on board to make sure that enough life vests are being properly stored.
They can then investigate the boat pilot for signs of intoxication. Because field sobriety tests must be performed on a flat, level surface, the officer must escort the driver to shore. Even after waiting a brief period, many people have trouble balancing after spending hours on the water. A defense lawyer could use this fact to argue that his client was improperly investigated for signs of intoxication.
Boating While Intoxicated Attorney
Many people don’t realize that BWIs are so aggressively enforced in Texas. If you have been drinking, you should never operate any equipment, including boats. However, if you have been arrested for this crime, then the next thing you must do is contact a criminal defense attorney ASAP. Schedule your free case review with Justin T. Surginer by calling 713-589-8855 today.