Dallas Boating While Intoxicated Lawyers

Texas waterways are places where people can relax, have fun, and spend quality time with family and friends while beating the heat. The state’s lakes and rivers give people a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, offering a more laid-back and easier pace. It may be this picturesque image that gets many boaters in trouble. Waterways may not always be as crowded as freeways in Texas but operating a boat while intoxicated is treated just as seriously as operating a car while intoxicated. That means that a day at the lake drinking and fishing can end up having devastating consequences.

If you have been charged with boating while intoxicated, you need to get in touch with an experienced Dallas lawyer that knows what you’ll be up against. A BWI charge can significantly impact your life and your financial standing and may carry penalties just as severe as driving while intoxicated. You can’t afford to fight these charges on your own.

Before you go any further, contact a Dallas DWI  defense attorney with Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter for help. Let us review your situation and build a solid strategy that is tailored to your unique circumstances. Our goal is to try to get the most favorable outcome possible for your case. Call us for help today at (214) 845-7007, and let us get to work defending your rights.

What Is the Legal Definition of Boating While Intoxicated?

Just as the law prohibits driving while intoxicated, so too does it prohibit boating while intoxicated. While most people are familiar with the phrase “boating while intoxicated,” the law actually bans individuals from operating any type of watercraft or vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes boats, water skis or jet skis, aquaplanes, and other motor-propelled forms of water transportation.

An individual can be deemed intoxicated while operating a boat if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater, the same BAC as for drunk driving. An individual could also face BWI charges if they are found not to have the normal use of their mental or physical abilities due to taking drugs or alcohol.

Criminal Penalties for Boating While Intoxicated

Waterways are typically not as crowded as roadways, and that tends to give people a false sense of security when it comes to drinking and operating a vehicle. However, the law doesn’t make the same distinction. Operating a boat while intoxicated is just as dangerous as operating a car while drunk, and the criminal penalties reflect that. Although penalties may vary depending on the circumstances of the incident, they can be severe and include jail time and steep fines.

BWI First Offense

  • Class B misdemeanor
  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Up to 180 days in jail

BWI First Offense- BAC of .15 or greater

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Fines up to $4,000
  • Up to 1 year in jail

BWI First Offense with serious bodily injury to a person 

  • 3rd-degree felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • 2 to 10 years in prison

BWI First Offense resulting in a death 

  • 2nd-degree felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • 2 to 20 years in prison

BWI Second Offense

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Fines up to $4,000
  • Up to 1 year in jail

BWI Third Offense

  • 3rd-degree felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • 2 to 10 years in jail

The penalties for a BWI conviction may be increased in severity if an accident occurs and leaves a victim with a traumatic brain injury or if the victim is left in a vegetative state. Penalties can also become much more severe if there is an accident and a law enforcement officer, emergency medical responder, or firefighter is a victim. These can be considered felony offenses and are taken seriously by law enforcement and prosecutors.

Individuals must also be aware that they can also be bound by the state’s implied consent law. This law specifies that if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you have been drinking or are intoxicated, you must automatically consent to take a blood, urine, or breath test to measure your blood alcohol content. If an individual refuses to comply with the law and take the test, they can face a separate set of consequences in addition to potential BWI charges. The penalties for refusing to comply with the state’s implied consent law include:

First Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for 180 days

Second Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for 2 years

Third Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for 2 years

In most cases, individuals with a BWI conviction will also face other consequences and penalties, which may include probation, being required to perform community service, or being forced to install an interlock device. Those with a conviction may also have their driver’s license suspended anywhere from six months to one year, depending on the circumstances of their case.

In addition to the criminal consequences of operating a boat while intoxicated, there can be civil penalties as well. If an accident happens, a victim may be able to take the responsible individual to court to recover compensation for the accident. The burden of proof in a civil trial is much less than that of a criminal trial. If a judge finds in favor of the victim, the responsible party may be on the hook for paying the victim’s medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering.

Another consequence of a BWI conviction may also be the potential loss of your insurance policy. In the event that your carrier keeps your policy active, you may find yourself paying much high monthly premiums.

Considering all the potential consequences, a BWI conviction can come at a substantial cost, both initially in fines and down the road in additional and unforeseen costs and financial obligations. Having a conviction on your record may also hurt your future job prospects, your ability to get a loan, or get into a new home or apartment. A BWI can also have an impact on your personal and professional reputation.

With so much on the line, if you’ve been charged with a boating while intoxicated offense you need to immediately contact an experienced Dallas BWI attorney. The legal team at Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter can protect your rights and craft a defense strategy tailored to your specific situation. We want to begin working with you as soon as possible so we can build a plan that offers you the best chance possible at a favorable outcome.

Don’t wait to get legal help on your side, hoping that these charges will be minor or just go away. They won’t. You need the legal advice of an experienced and knowledgeable Dallas BWI attorney from Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter.

Differences Between DWI and BWI in Texas

Driving while intoxicated is remarkably similar to boating while intoxicated with one important distinction. When an individual is driving a car, law enforcement officers must have probable cause to stop you. You could be driving erratically, have a taillight out, or speeding, but they must have a reason to pull you over in the first place. This is not true of watercraft. Law enforcement officials have the authority to stop a boat and perform what is known as a “safety check” at any time. They do not need to have probable cause to stop your boat.

If an officer stops a boat to perform a routine safety inspection and finds open containers in the boat, smells alcohol, or otherwise suspects that the operator of the boat may be impaired in any way, they can require the operator to submit to a chemical BAC test. While open containers of alcohol are not illegal on a boat, as they are in a car, they can trigger a law enforcement officer to request that the operator submit to a BAC test. Again, due to Texas’s implied consent law, the operator must submit to the test or face the suspension of their license.

Contact the Dallas Boating While Intoxicated Lawyers at Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter

A boating while intoxicated conviction can have serious detrimental impacts on your personal and professional life. Fines, jail time, and the suspension of your license are all very real possibilities. A conviction can also ruin your reputation and limit your access to loans, housing, and job prospects.

The criminal and financial implications of a conviction can be significant. That’s why you need immediate and experienced legal representation. Don’t wait and hope for the best. Take action to ensure that your rights are being protected. Contact the experienced BWI lawyers with Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter for help.

At Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, we work with you to review the details of your case and build a solid defense strategy. We aim to give you the best opportunity possible for a positive outcome to your situation. If you’ve been arrested for boating while intoxicated, call our office now at (214) 845-7007.

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