What is BWI and the potential punishment?

BWI or boating while intoxicated is when you commit an offense intoxicated while operating a watercraft. A BWI is just as serious a charge as a DWI, and its punishments are exactly the same as for DWI, including the same surcharges and license suspensions.

A first-offense boating while intoxicated conviction with a BAC less than .15 is a class B misdemeanor and includes the possibility of a fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or a jail sentence from 3 days to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days to 365 days. However, if you are found to have a BAC of .15 or more, a first-offense BWI becomes a class A misdemeanor; the punishment range increases to a fine not to exceed $4,000; and the possible jail time increases to 1 year. If you are convicted, you will be assessed an annual $1,000-$2,000 surcharge fee each year for a period of 3 years in order to retain your driver’s license.

Subsequent Boating While Intoxicated Offenses

For a first-offense boating while intoxicated charge, bond conditions are a matter of discretion for the court. However, if you are charged with a subsequent offense of BWI, DWI, or FWI in Texas or a first offense of intoxicated assault or manslaughter in Texas, you are required to install a vehicle ignition interlock device on your car and are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle without an interlock device. This interlock device determines the presence of alcohol in your breath. If the device detects a certain level of alcohol, the vehicle is temporarily disabled.

Boating While Intoxicated Additional Requirements

A judge may, however, decide that justice would not be served by installing an interlock device on your vehicle, and can excuse its installation. Conversely, some judges require that all DWI defendants, even first offenders, install an interlock device on their car. Additionally, the court will order an accused to abstain from alcohol use and use of controlled substances without a prescription. The court may enforce this by ordering random drug testing.

The attorneys at Trichter & Murphy, PC, have years of experience with Texas boating laws regarding BWI in Houston, Conroe, Livingston, Galveston and elsewhere. We understand that a BWI arrest can damage your valuable reputation the same way that a DWI or DUI arrest can.