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Houston, Texas Boating While Intoxicated Defense Lawyer

Charged with Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) in the Houston area or anywhere in Texas? You need an experienced BWI defense lawyer. You should also know that the penalties for a conviction are as severe as a DWI in this state. The criminal defense attorneys of Johnson, Johnson & Baer, P.C. have over 30 years of experience handling intoxicated boating cases. Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation whether it’s your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd intoxicated vehicle operation charge.

What Is Boating While Intoxicated?

Most people know that it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated; however, many people are unaware that it is also illegal in Texas to operate a watercraft while intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above. Boating while intoxicated is a class B misdemeanor in Texas if the alleged is a first time offender with no priors, and their BAC is not above .15.

Penalties for Boating While Intoxicated in Texas

The same definition of intoxication is used for Boating While Intoxicated as is used for Driving While Intoxicated in Texas Penal Code.

Title 10, Section 49.06 (a) BOATING WHILE INTOXICATED:

“A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operation a watercraft.” 

Penalty for First BWI Offense in Texas
The government must prove that a citizen has lost the normal use of his/her physical or mental faculties or has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. A class B misdemeanor boating while intoxicated conviction is punishable by a fine up to $2000, and a minimum of 72 hours and max of 180 days in county jail. The person charged with BWI is subject to automatic license suspension for a minimum of 90 days, maximum of 365 days.

Penalty for 1st BWI with BAC Over .15
If the captain is charged with BWI and has a BAC at or above .15, the charge is enhanced to a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4000; minimum confinement of 72 hours and max of 1 year in jail; and automatic license suspension ranging from 90 to 365 days.

Legal Defense Strategies for Boating While Intoxicated Charges

Doing field sobriety tests after having been in a boat on the water presents unique challenges for the officers that are conducting field sobriety tests. 

People often suffer from “sea legs” after being in a boat for an extended period of time.  These “sea legs” can affect the performance and accuracy of the field sobriety tests. The stand and turn test may yield a false positive result for captains suspected of boating while intoxicated.

The National Transportation Safety Administration (the agency responsible for certifying the field sobriety tests) sets out different requirements in the administration of the field sobriety tests for those individuals that have been on a boat.  Your lawyer should know these differences in order properly defend your Boating While Intoxicated case.

Contact a Local BWI Defense Attorney Today

The most common waters that we see individuals charged with BWI in the Houston area are: Lake Conroe, Lake Houston, Clear Lake, Lake Livingston and Galveston Bay.  Most of the Boating While Intoxicated arrests are made by officers with the Parks and Wildlife Department.   If you or someone you know has been arrested for Boating While Intoxicated, call our attorneys today at 713-222-0400 to discuss your case and the options you have. 

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