There are specific laws which are widely known, and there are also many that most people don’t know they exist. While some are just minor, some are serious and can get one in trouble without being aware of it. In Texas, fishing and boating are very popular hobbies. It is, in fact, a tradition for many families and friends to go sailing or to go fishing and camping. The state is rich in water resources, and there are many natural human-made lakes spread all over the country. But if you are a beginner to boating, it is essential to learn not just the basics of operating a boat to get your license, but you should also be aware of the boating laws. It is especially true if you love drinking. So today, let’s give you the basics on the Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) law in Texas.
Good read: Boating Emergencies: 8 Safety Tips
What is BWI?
The boating while intoxicated law in Texas prohibits anyone from operating a watercraft of any kind while on alcohol or drugs. A watercraft is defined as any vessel operating in water just like a boat, ski or an aquaplane. On the other hand, a craft is any device propelled through water current and is used to transport people on the water. Anyone suspected to be impaired by alcohol or drugs is asked to undergo a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test through urine, blood or breathe. Anyone proven to have a BAC of 0.08% and higher will get charged with BWI.
What are the Corresponding Sanctions?
When it comes to the penalties, they are somehow similar to Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under Influence (DUI). Once you are proven guilty, then corresponding sanctions will be imposed on you. The penalties will depend on the number of times you are charged with either DWI or BWI, the severity of the offense and several other factors. The harm caused to humans and properties is also taken into consideration.
First offense is counted as class B misdemeanor. When sentenced, you will have a jail time of 72 hours to 180 days plus a fine of up to $2000. If you caused severe bodily injury, then the charge will be counted as a third-degree felony with a sentence of two to ten years in prison plus a fine of up to $10000. If the offense resulted in death, then it will still be counted as a third-degree felony, but the sentence is between two to twenty years in jail plus a maximum of $10000 in fines.
Second-time offenders for either BWI or DWI will get charged for Class A misdemeanor. The penalty is jail time of around 30 days to one year plus a fine of $4000 maximum.
For the third offense, the penalties are more severe as it is counted as a third-degree felony. The offender can face a jail sentence of two to ten years plus a fine of up to $10000.
The best way to avoid getting in trouble with the law is to minimize your drinking when operating a boat. If possible, do not drink at all. However, in case you get in trouble for BWI, contact us or visit us for legal assistance.