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5 Things to Remember When Drinking Alcohol & Boating

We continue our discussion about alcohol and boating. 

Attorney Steve Toland shares five important things to remember when it comes to alcohol and boating. Any time you mix those two together, it comes with a lot of responsibility. Therefore, it’s essential to know the following.

1. Law enforcement can investigate you for BWI if you’re on a boat.

A boat is defined in Texas as a vessel, which is any device that carries one or more people over the water that’s propelled by something other than the ocean currents. 

2. There are broad discretionary powers by law enforcement to pull you over

It’s different than driving a motor vehicle. For boating, there is a broad warrantless exception called the safety check or safety exception. It means that law enforcement can come on your boat and ask you about fire extinguishers, life jackets, and things like that. You need to expect that when you’re out on the water, law enforcement at any point could stop you and ask about the alcohol on board. Nonetheless, you should consult an attorney if you have questions about that, but that’s the general rule to keep in mind.

3. The legal definition of intoxication on a boat, it’s the same as driving. 

Like driving the blood alcohol content, it’s 0.08, or the loss of your mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol or drugs in your system. 

4. Many cases result in a false arrest. 

That is because the signs of impairment for intoxication are substantially similar to the signs people exhibit when they’ve been out on a boat all day. If you think about it, bloodshot, glassy eyes due to the wind, a raspy horsey voice from being out on the water, wobbly sea legs, and then all these things are hard to distinguish between somebody who’s had too much to drink and somebody who’s been on a boat all day. Our advice is always to consult an attorney if you have been wrongfully arrested. 

5. You and the passengers are allowed to drink alcohol. 

You are allowed to drink alcohol on the boat, which is different from a motor vehicle. So, if you’re driving the boat and you’re the captain, you can have an open container, and that’s not against the law. Nevertheless, you can’t be intoxicated. And likewise other people on your boat, your passengers, they can also drink alcohol. Again, they’re allowed to do that, unlike a motor vehicle. 

These are five important things to remember about BWIs. In our last video of the series, we’re going to talk about the penalty ranges and defenses available to you for these types of arrests or charges. 

If you have any questions in this area, you or a loved one have been facing a charge of BWI, alcohol, and boating. Reach out to us. We’re glad to help. 

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