Just like with vehicles, there are various requirements and expectations established under Texas law for people operating a boat. If a police officer suspects you are operating a watercraft while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you could be arrested for boating while intoxicated, or BWI.
What most people don’t realize is that the penalties for boating while intoxicated are just as severe as a DWI. If you were arrested for BWI in Grapevine, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with our firm can answer any questions you have and work with you to build a comprehensive legal defense.
Boating while intoxicated is a unique criminal offense defined separately in the Texas Penal Code from driving while intoxicated. According to Texas Penal Code Section 49.06, a person may be charged with boating while intoxicated if they are found to be intoxicated while in operation or control of a watercraft.
Texas defines “intoxication” in a couple different ways:
In Grapevine, a law enforcement officer may detain someone simply because they have probable cause to believe they are physically or mentally impaired by alcohol or drug consumption while operating a watercraft. These kinds of arrests can often be contested in court by one of our skilled attorneys, as they are often dependent on observational evidence and the officer’s subjective interpretation.
Boating while intoxicated is a class B misdemeanor. This means that if you are convicted of this offense and have no prior record for BWI or DWI, you may face up to six months in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Additionally, anyone arrested on suspicion of BWI must spend at least 72 hours in jail if convicted.
A second BWI offense— or a BWI offense committed by someone previously convicted of DWI or BWI—is punished as a class A misdemeanor, with potential penalties including a jail sentence between 30 days and one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Any subsequent BWI or DWI offense would be a third-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Furthermore, anyone who operates a boat while intoxicated and causes an accident that directly results in someone else’s serious injury or death, will face a felony charge, even for a first-time offense. Given the severe penalties that can result from a BWI offense in Grapevine, you should seek legal help as soon as possible after you are arrested. Our lawyers have over 100 years of experience handling criminal cases and we are prepared to handle your charge.
Whether in the sea, on land, or in the sky, anyone who operates a vehicle while intoxicated could end up facing criminal charges. If you are convicted of boating while intoxicated in Grapevine, you may face misdemeanor or even felony punishments depending on the circumstances of your arrest.
Fortunately, there are a number of different ways to contest these charges, but you will have a hard time executing them without help from a qualified defense lawyer. Call Varghese Summersett today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced legal team and discuss the options available to you.