Penalties for Boating While Intoxicated in Texas


Attorney Steve Toland wraps up his 3-part series of Alcohol and Boating Offenses. He explains all the penalty ranges in the video below if you are convicted of boating while intoxicated.

The penalty ranges are very similar to a DWI or driving while intoxicated.

Class B Misdemeanor
The first offense and conviction for boating while intoxicated (BWI) is a class B misdemeanor, as long as your blood alcohol level is under 0.15. Like all class B misdemeanors in Texas, you face up to:

  • $2,000 fine or
  • 2 years of probation or
  • 3 days in a jail sentence

Class A Misdemeanor
A class A misdemeanor is when your blood alcohol level is 0.15 or higher on a first-time conviction for BWI or a second conviction. Like all class A misdemeanors in Texas punishable up to

  • $4,000 fine
  • 2-year probation
  • Jail sentence substantially similar to a class B misdemeanor

Third-Degree Felony
Many BWI cases result from an accident that brings law enforcement onto the scene, and then a subsequent arrest is made for BWI. If somebody suffers a serious bodily injury, that’s a third-degree felony in Texas, that’s punishable

  • 2 to 10 years in prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine or
  • Up to 10 years of probation

Second-Degree Felony
God forbid, if somebody is killed, that is manslaughter in Texas. That’s a second-degree felony, and that’s punishable

  • From 2 years up to 20 years in prison and
  • $10,000 fine or
  • 10 years of probation.

People are also surprised to learn that BWI’s conviction is the same as a DWI in terms of your driver’s license suspension. Therefore, you can have your driver’s license suspended for up to 90 days or more, depending on the number of convictions you have.

Also, if there are subsequent offense for BWI or a felony for BWI can trigger the judge to order you to install an ignition interlock device on your motor vehicle, even though you were driving a boat for your conviction.

That being said, these are very defensible. We’ve talked in past episodes about the importance of hiring an attorney immediately and vigorously attacking these cases. They use what is called Seated Flotation Sobriety Test (SFST). This test is where you sit down, and they check you. As you know, the signs of being on a boat for an extended period are very similar to the signs of intoxication or impairment that somebody could have. Because of that, there is a 32-34% false arrest rate for those field sobriety tests. That’s why you need to attack these vigorously. Therefore, you need to hire an excellent attorney as soon as possible.

If you, or a loved one, face any issues with this or been arrested and charged with BWI, reach out to us right away. We have vast experience in his area, and we’d love to help you.

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