Dallas Boating While Intoxicated Lawyer | BWI Defense

What is Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) in Dallas?

A Dallas Boating While Intoxicated offense is committed if a person is intoxicated while operating a watercraft. Intoxication, for purposes of boating while intoxicated, has the same definition as it does for a DWI offense in Texas: 

(1) not having the normal use of physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, a drug, any combination or other substance OR 

(2) not having the normal use of mental faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, a drug, any combination or other substance OR 

(3) having an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.  

A watercraft is “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,” according to Texas statute Sec. 49.01.  Examples of watercrafts are motorboats, sailboats, water skis, wakeboards, and jet skis.  

BOATING WHILE INTOXICATEDDallas Boating While Intoxicated Lawyer, Serving Dallas and the Surrounding Areas

It might appear harmless, but boating while intoxicated could capsize your life.

Though many people partake in a little party on the water, Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) in Dallas is a criminal offense, and if convicted, the penalties are as serious as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). What may surprise you is that Texas Parks and Wildlife officers don’t need to believe you have violated the law in order to stop and board your boat while you are on the water. 

Officers routinely stop and board boats to ensure the proper safety equipment is aboard: think an adequate number of life vests, fire extinguishers, emergency horns, and properly placed identification numbers.  Once an officer boards the boat and smells alcohol, you can bet they will initiate a BWI investigation. 

If you’re facing a Dallas boating while intoxicated charge, you need a defense attorney with experience fighting this offense. Though Dallas boating while intoxicated is a rare charge compared to DWIs, our team has defended dozens of BWI cases and will work tirelessly to win you the best possible outcome.

What is the punishment for boating while intoxicated?

Texas Penal Code Section 49.06 states that boating while intoxicated in Texas is punishable by three days of confinement and up to 180 days in jail. A first offense could also include a fine of up to $2,000.

Are open containers allowed on your boat in Dallas?

Yes. Unlike in a vehicle, it is legal to have an open container on a boat.

Can a boat operator drink alcohol in Dallas?

A person can legally drink alcohol while operating a boat or watercraft as long as they are not intoxicated. Of course, Texas Parks and Wildlife urges boaters to avoid alcohol.

Do police need consent or probable cause to enter your boat or stop you?

No. Police do not need consent or probable cause to stop and perform a safety check on the water whether you’re on a boat, jet ski, or other watercraft. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that Texas Parks and Wildlife Code allows officers to stop and inspect boats for the proper safety equipment and boating license. This allows officers to stop and board watercraft without having any reasonable suspicion.

Will my driver’s license be suspended if I’m arrested for boating while intoxicated?

If arrested for Dallas boating while intoxicated, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days if you are asked for and refuse to give a specimen of your breath or blood. It’s important to note that this applies only to vessels with engines with a manufacturer rating of 50 horsepower or more.

How do police prove you’re intoxicated in boating while intoxicated cases?

Officers use the seated battery of field sobriety tests to judge intoxication for boating stops. These were developed by the Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators as a way for officers to perform the necessary tests despite the issues of being on the water. This set of six tests includes:

Finger-to-nose test: The person brings the tip of their finger to the tip of their nose with their eyes closed and their head tilted back. The officer instructs “right” or “left” to direct the person on which finger to use. Officers determine whether the person can touch their nose and use the correct hand.

Time estimation test: The person is asked to close their eyes, tilt their head back and estimate the passage of 30 seconds.

Finger count test: The person is asked to extend one hand with palm up and count to four while touching the tips of the corresponding finger with their thumb.

Hand coordination test: The person is asked to place their left fist on their chest and their right fist next to the left fist. They are asked to move their fists one after the other and take nine “steps” with their fists, then take nine “steps” back. After completion, the subject places their hands in their lap with palms down.

Palm pat test: The officer asks the person to extend one hand, palm facing up, and the other hand, palm facing down on top of the first hand. The person is asked to rotate their top hand 180 degrees back and forth while keeping the bottom hand steady. The person is asked to count aloud and speed up as the test progresses.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: The officer holds a small object approximately a foot from the person’s nose and slowly moves it from one side to the other. The person is asked to follow the object with their eyes while keeping their head still.  The officer is looking for involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyes, called nystagmus, while following the object.  There are six possible times the officer can observe and confirm the presence of nystagmus during this standardized field sobriety test.  If the officer observes four or more clues, they have probable cause to arrest for BWI.

Facing Dallas Boating While Intoxicated? Call us.

Have you been arrested for Dallas boating while intoxicated? If so, you need strong legal representation. Our team of attorneys have experience fighting Dallas boating while intoxicated cases and taking them to trial, if necessary. Call us for a free consultation to discuss potential defense strategies and learn how our team can help you fight back: 214-903-4000.


Dallas Boating While Intoxicated Laywer

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Dallas Boating While Intoxicated Laywer

The Consultation is Free

The Advice is Priceless

(214) 903-4000

Table of Contents

Benson Varghese Author

About the Author

Benson Varghese is the managing partner of Varghese Summersett. He is a seasoned attorney, highly esteemed for his comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field. He has successfully handled thousands of state and federal cases, ranging from misdemeanor driving while intoxicated cases to capital offenses, showcasing his commitment to preserving justice and upholding the rights of his clients. His firm covers criminal defense, personal injury, and family law matters. Benson is also a legal tech entrepreneur.

Benson is a go-to authority in the legal community, known for his ability to explain complex legal concepts with clarity and precision. His writings offer a wealth of in-depth legal insights, reflecting his extensive experience and his passion for the law.

Not only is Benson an accomplished litigator, but he is also a dedicated advocate for his clients, consistently striving to achieve the best possible outcomes for them. His authorship provides readers with valuable legal advice and an understanding of the complexities of the criminal justice system.

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