Boating while intoxicated (BWI) charges are pretty much what you expect them to be: essentially receiving a DWI but on a boat (or other personal watercrafts like water skis and jet skis). In Texas, that means operating a motorized watercraft, over 50 horsepower, while intoxicated. However, there are some differences between the two citations beyond the type of vehicle involved.
BWI vs. DWI
Although BWIs and DWIs have similarities, there is one major distinction involving how they’re initially carried out. In a DWI situation, law enforcement requires reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. With BWIs, aquatic police officers and game wardens may stop your craft for any reason they want. They can even board your boat to check your licenses and tags, and if they smell alcohol, they are cleared to begin investigating your blood alcohol levels. Plus, even if you initially pass the Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST), you may still have to go undergo certain other tests!
Getting caught and issued a BWI charge can result in fines and/or incarceration, depending on the offense. For first-timers, this could mean paying up to $2,000 in fines or serving up to 180 days in jail. Second-time offenders can pay fines up to $4,000 or face imprisonment for up to a year. The third offense can lead to a $10,000 fine and anywhere between two to ten years of prison time. In addition, you could have your license suspended if found guilty of a BWI.
It should be noted that you can only receive a BWI for operating a motorized watercraft with over 50 horsepower, which means you cannot receive a BWI if operating rowboats or other entirely manpowered watercraft or small dinghies.
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You can’t afford a BWI conviction, even if you’re a first-time offender. Mark Thiessen is available 24/7 to help you fight for your freedom. Request a free consultation today and see what he and his dedicated team can do in the name of justice.