Boating While Intoxicated
Austin & Travis County Boating While Intoxicated Attorney
Most people are aware that operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is a serious criminal offense. However, many do not realize that Texas has a parallel charge for operating a watercraft while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs – commonly referred to as boating while intoxicated (“BWI”) or boating under the influence (“BUI”). Like driving, Texas utilizes implied consent meaning that by operating a watercraft on Texas waters, the operator consents to being tested for alcohol and drugs by a law enforcement officer. As a result, many individuals find themselves on the receiving end of a boating while intoxicated charge. The penalties resulting from a BWI/BUI charge are severe and should not be taken lightly. These penalties can have repercussions throughout your life and affect your future. To ensure that your future is protected, you need a criminal defense attorney who has experience defending against boating while intoxicated charges.
For more than 20 years, Texas criminal defense attorney Phil Baker has specialized in drug and alcohol-related charges, including driving while intoxicated and boating while intoxicated. He has successfully defended hundreds of Texans from criminal prosecution with cases ranging from simple misdemeanors to complex felony trials. Some of Attorney Phil Baker’s most important cases have included the reversal of an 18-year old DWI conviction and a “no-bill” from the grand jury in a charge for quadruple intoxicated manslaughter. Attorney Phil Baker has the experience and passion for criminal defense required to defend you from prosecution. Mr. Baker will work diligently to review every fact of your case to look for errors committed by law enforcement and the prosecution to pursue an acquittal. If you have been arrested for, or have been charged with, boating while intoxicated or boating under the influence in Austin and Travis County, please contact me as soon as possible for a free consultation.
What is Considered Boating While Intoxicated in Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code Ann. Section 49.06, boating while intoxicated is operating a watercraft while intoxicated. First, Texas law defines a watercraft as “a vessel, one or more water skis, an aquaplane, or another device used for transporting or carrying a person on water, other than a device propelled only by the current of water.” Thus, even if you are not operating the boat, but are water skiing or using another device towed behind a boat, you can be found to have been operating a watercraft under Texas law.
Second, being intoxicated under Texas law means that you are impaired by drugs or alcohol to an extent where you do not have the “normal use of mental or physical faculties;” or if you have a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08 percent or greater. Many are familiar with the 0.08 percent BAC limit as it is the same for driving. However, most are not aware that you can be charged and convicted with a boating while intoxicated even if you have a BAC of less than 0.08 percent if you do not appear to be mentally or physically capable of the performing the task at hand.
Thus, to gain a conviction for boating while intoxicated, the prosecution must prove that you were intoxicated while operating a watercraft. Due to the broad definition of intoxication (not having normal use of mental or physical faculties), you need an attorney with extensive experience in alcohol-related charges who knows how to head off allegations that you were intoxicated despite having a BAC below 0.08percent. Attorney Phil Baker has spent more than 20 years defending everyday Texans from overzealous prosecution and will fight to prove that you weren’t intoxicated.
What are the Consequences of Boating While Intoxicated?
The penalties for a BWI are extensive and depend upon the specific circumstances of the charge and the accused’s criminal history. For a first offense of BWI (misdemeanor), the penalties include a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days incarceration. For a first offense with serious injury BWI (felony), the penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years incarceration. For a first offense with a death BWI (felony), the fine remains at $10,000 but the maximum incarceration increases to 20 years.
When considering offenses beyond the first offense, Texas law considers BWIs and DWIs to be the same, meaning that having a prior DWI will elevate your BWI to a second offense BWI (misdemeanor) carrying a fine of up to $4,000 and incarceration of not more than one year. For a third offense BWI (felony), you’re facing a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 20 years. For all BWI offenses, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of six months up to a maximum of one year.
In addition to the above penalties, the consequences for being convicted of a felony are serious. If you are convicted of a felony, you lose your right to own, operate, or possess a firearm and may be barred from certain jobs such as teaching or public service. Due to the far-reaching consequences of a BWI charge, you need an attorney well-versed in fighting alcohol-related charges.
Arrested For BWI? Call Phil Baker Today
Texas Attorney Phil Baker has extensive experience in successfully defending BWI charges. Some of the defenses that Mr. Baker will raise are challenges to the accuracy of the blood or alcohol breath test, improper handling of evidence, and constitutional challenges if your rights have been violated. Attorney Phil Baker knows how stressful being charged with a BWI can be, and bases his practice on helping those accused of a BWI navigate the criminal justice system and the complexities that the charges can bring to your everyday life. If you have been charged with, or arrested for, a BWI in Austin or Travis County, please contact me as soon as possible for a free consultation.