Boating While Intoxicated in Texas

Many people have been warned about the dangers of operating a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, it is not just car and truck drivers that must follow these driving regulations. Like Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), operating a boat while intoxicated of alcohol or drugs can also carry severe penalties in Texas.

Texas has more inland waterways than any state in the country, and after heavy rains this spring the lakes are full and the boat ramps are open. If you are looking to spend a day out on the water, knowledge of Texas Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) laws can help prevent loss of boating license or the boat itself.

Things to remember about Texas boating laws:

  • Same as a DWI, a BWI occurs when blood alcohol content is 0.08 or above
  • A first conviction carries up to $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail
  • A second conviction carries up to $4,000 fine and 1 year in jail
  • A third conviction carries up to $10,000 fine and 2 to 10 years in jail
  • License suspension when operating any vessel with an engine over 50 horsepower

Slight differences in DWI and BWI law is that law enforcement officers do not need probable cause to stop a boat for safety inspections. Another difference is it is illegal for a person to have an open-container of alcohol in a motor vehicle but Texas law allows for open containers to be present on boats. The person driving the boat must be licensed according to boat size and regulations, and is subject to boating while intoxicated laws. Public intoxication laws may apply for passengers on the boat.

If You Have Been Stopped for BWI

Excessive boat speed, aggressive turn speeds, and lack of lights and other nighttime safety features may cause a boat to be stopped by police. If a driver has been stopped by police under the suspicion of boating under the influence, there are a few factors that can complicate a field sobriety test.
Spending a day in the sun can create physical conditions that mimic that of intoxication. Red eyes and skin, unsteady footing from spending time on a boat and lightheadedness from dehydration can be mistaken for popular drunk-driving warning signs.

Contact the Collin County DWI Lawyers today

Being stopped for a BWI could result in serious penalties. The Collin County criminal defense attorneys at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian can help prevent the loss of your boating rights and privileges on open waterways. Call our office today for a free consult – (972) 369-0577.

Written by: Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian Last Updated : June 14, 2023