R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Is it illegal to boat while drunk?

Hitting the water for a little leisurely relaxation time is a fun hobby for many Texans. When you're out boating with friends or family, it might be tempting to crack open a few cold ones and enjoy some drinks and company. Unfortunately, you could be breaking the law if you do so.

Texas Parks & Wildlife states that anyone operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or higher can, in fact, be arrested for boating while intoxicated (BWI). A boat is treated like any other vehicle, and operating your boat while drunk can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. This is highlighted by the fact that up to 50 percent of all boating accidents involve alcohol in some way.

In addition to that, you can face penalties if you're convicted of BWI. This can include a fine of up to $2,000 or a jail sentence of up to 180 days. It's the Maritime Safety Enforcement Officers and the Game Wardens who make sure that BWI laws are followed. They are allowed to administer urine, blood, or breath tests in order to determine your BAC level. Refusing to take these tests can result in you losing your license for up to 180 days, as there is an implied consent law stating you will allow your BAC to be tested any time you boat.

BWI charges can be just as serious as DUI charges. For that reason, anyone boating should seriously reconsider bringing along those beers, even if it may seem like a fun idea.

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