Summer is fast approaching, and that means more time out on the lake to beat the Texas heat. There are many water sports to enjoy, from speedboating to water skiing to kayaking. These are best enjoyed with family and friends, which can prompt the drinking of alcohol.
Before you take a sip of any alcoholic beverage, know the laws concerning boating under the influence in Texas. They are not quite the same as for driving a vehicle, yet they do come with just as serious consequences.
Texas BUI law
Just as with drinking and driving, it is against Texas law to operate a watercraft of any kind while intoxicated. The blood alcohol limit is 0.08 percent, with no lower threshold for those below 21 years old, unlike in some states. The open container law for vehicles does not apply to boats.
If you are arrested for BUI on a boat with a 50-horsepower engine or higher and you refuse to take a breath, urine or blood test, you will lose your driver’s license for at least 180 days. However, there is no requirement for on-land field sobriety tests. There are also no BUI checkpoints, though Texas does use saturation patrols.
Penalties of a BUI conviction
Do not think that just because you are on the water, drunk driving is not as serious. Even one drink can lead to disaster because impairment happens more quickly on the water. Upon conviction of a BUI, you may face the following penalties:
- First offenders: maximum of a $2,000 fine, 180 days of jail time or both
- Second offenders: maximum of a $4,000 fine, a year of jail time or both
- Third offenders: maximum of a $10,000 fine, 2-10 years of jail time or both
- All offenders: loss of boating license
Penalties are more severe if you cause an accident, endanger a child or injure somebody. Criminal charges, however, do not mean you do not deserve protection of your rights. If you face a BUI, hire a Texas DUI attorney to defend you in court.