Free Consultation713.864.9000

Lawyer for BWI in Texas

Boating While Intoxicated in Houston

Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal Law
DUI Defense Lawyers Association Board Certified
National College for DUI Defense Board Certified
Super Lawyers 2013-2020
Super Lawyers Top 100 in Houston & Texas
Lawyer Scientist
Avvo 10/10 Rating
Avvo Clients' Choice Award
Board Certified Advocate in Criminal Trial Law by the NBTA Foundation
AV Preeminent
Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
National Trail Lawyer
Super Lawyers Rising Star 2010-2013

If you have been charged with BWI in Texas, contact attorney Mark Thiessen at 713.864.9000 or request a free case evaluation. We serve Houston and the surrounding areas and are available 24/7 to fight for you.

Hire a Texas BWI lawyer that wins

It doesn’t matter whether you’re waterskiing on Lake Conroe, fishing in Lake Livingston, or cruising the Intercoastal around Galveston, boating while intoxicated can result in an arrest and hefty fines as BWI in Texas is almost identical to DWI in Texas, and it comes with all of the same steep penalties.

The difference? Game wardens and aquatic police officers are given a lot more latitude in stopping and arrest making, and sobriety tests are even worse on the water. The broad nature of a boating while intoxicated stop means having a winning Houston BWI lawyer on your side is a must.

Mark Thiessen is not only an ACS-CHAL Lawyer-Scientist, but he is the only lawyer in America who is 4x Board Certified in DWI*. He has experience taking BWI cases to trial and winning, because he knows the science and the law behind BWI, and makes them work for his clients. If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of BWI in Texas, call Thiessen Law Firm today at 713-864-9000 for aggressive and dedicated defense. 

*Mark Thiessen is board certified in:

  1. Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  2. DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense as approved through the American Bar Association
  3. DUI Law by the DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  4. Board Certified Advocate in Criminal Trial Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy Foundation

What is BWI in Texas?

In Texas, BWI and DWI are almost identical from just about every angle, although there are a few complicating factors. The first of which is that unlike driving around town, it is completely legal to drink while operating a boat on the water. The open container law in Texas allows not only passengers of a watercraft to consume alcohol, but the operators as well. 

Whoever is driving the boat must operate that boat within the legal limit of course, and the legal alcohol limit in Texas is the same on the water as it is on the shore: .08%. The rules for public intoxication in Texas are also the same in the water as they are ashore — there are no international waters and passengers cannot behave like pirates, even if the captain hasn’t had a drop. 

The major difference between DWI and BWI in Texas is the water — just kidding, it’s the stop. Texas boating laws do not require a game warden or aquatic police officer to have any articulate or specific reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop a boat operating on the waters of Texas. However, an officer must have specific and articulate reasonable suspicion and probable cause to stop a motor vehicle back on land.

Marine field sobriety or “float” tests

So the aquatic police, game wardens, and coast guard are able to stop your watercraft for whatever reason they see fit. This is supposedly to make everyone out on the water safer, but it functions as a way to put more people in jail more quickly. 

Similarly, the marine sobriety tests or “float tests” administered on the water also have the ultimate goal of putting you in jail. The ancient standardized field sobriety tests in Texas already pose a huge scientific problem in that none of them are designed to accurately measure blood alcohol level or sobriety — but the float tests pose even more of an issue. Why?

Well, the marine field sobriety tests are also ancient, developed by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in the 1970s, but have to be administered on the water instead of the side of the road. What does this mean? Red eyes, flushed skin, poor balance, heat stroke, dehydration, fatigue. These conditions now all signify intoxication, especially to the poorly trained game warden who likely took a class on how to administer the float tests all the way back in the 80s.

You have 15 days to save your driver's license

Act fast if you've been charged!

If you've been arrested for a DWI, you're facing two cases against you. The first one is a criminal case by the state of Texas, and the other is by the Texas Department of Public Safety to suspend your license.

Save Your License

Penalties for a BWI conviction

Penalties for a BWI conviction are steep and, just like Texas DWI penalties, only get steeper on repeat offenses. Is BWI a felony in Texas? They can be. Take a look at the chart below to see. 

OffenseOffense LevelMaximum FineMaximum Jail Time
First offenseClass B misdemeanor$2,000180 days
First offense with serious injury*Third-degree felony$10,00010 years
First offense with death*Second-degree felony$10,00020 years
Second offenseClass A misdemeanor$4,0001 year
Third offenseThird-degree felony$10,00020 years

*It should also be noted that watercraft are generally less safe than motor vehicles, and the chance of serious injury and death is high in the event of an accident. 

How much does a BWI cost in Texas? Although the fines listed above are steep and punitive, the true cost of a BWI can be hard to imagine. The costs incurred by any time in jail, bail bonds, license suspension and reinstatement fees, and community service programs alone are enough to make your head spin, and this doesn’t even approach the loss of quality of life and freedoms imposed on those who are convicted of felony DWI in Texas.

Arrested for BWI in Texas? Call Thiessen Law Firm for expert defense

If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of BWI in Texas, you need the best lawyer you can find, and fast. The odds are not in your favor as Texas courts prosecute BWI as aggressively as they do DWI, and take circumstantial evidence gathered by the untrained aquatic police as law. 

Change your odds. Call ACS-CHAL Lawyer-Scientist Mark Thiessen, who debunks junk science and fights for the truth. Call Thiessen Law Firm today at 713-864-9000 or sign up for a free consultation online.

aggressive defense