Boating with an Open Container in Texas Is Legal
No surprise that Texas has some of the best boating lakes and reservoirs in America. In Texas and elsewhere, boating is a great way to relax and have a good time. Adding to the fun, many boaters also enjoy a few beers or other tasty and refreshing beverages in the heat. In Texas, as in most other states, open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle is a crime, even if the driver hasn't touched the open container. Yet having open containers of alcohol in a boat is not a Texas crime. You can boat in Texas while having open containers aboard and not commit a crime. Yes, you can drink and drive a boat legally in Texas. this right does come with the responsibility of drinking responsibly so that you do not drink so much that you become legally intoxicated.
Operating a Boat While Intoxicated Is a Texas Crime
Yet operating a boat while intoxicated is a Texas crime just like driving a car or truck while intoxicated. Texas Penal Code §49.06 makes operating a watercraft while intoxicated a Class B misdemeanor, ordinarily with a minimum penalty of 72 hours in jail. For a boating while intoxicated conviction, authorities must show that the operator did not have normal use of mental or physical faculties or had a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater. Just because Texas permits open containers aboard does not mean the boat's operator can drink as much as the passengers aboard the boat. If you intend to have open containers in your boat, then you should make sure the boat driver is not legally intoxicated. Do not operate a boat while you are intoxicated as life altering tragic accidents can occur resulting in serious bodily injury or death.
An Example Boating-While-Intoxicated Charge
A recent report of two Lake Brownwood boaters indicted on boating-while-intoxicated charges illustrates the crime. Brown County authorities allege that the intoxicated boaters crashed their watercraft into a dock around midnight, at a reckless speed. All seven of the persons aboard the boat suffered injuries, some serious enough to require helicopter evacuation. The criminal charges included felony intoxication assault and felony aggravated assault because of those injuries. This, unfortunately, is an all too common occurrence on Texas lakes changing lives forever.
Defending a Boating-While-Intoxicated Charge
Just because authorities find open containers in a boat does not mean that the boat's operator has committed a boating-while-intoxicated crime. Open containers are legal on a boat. Defending a boating-while-intoxicated charge may involve presenting evidence that the operator was not drinking the open containers or that the defendant facing the charge was not the boat's operator. Indeed, whether the operator imbibes or not, prosecutors must still show that the operator lacked normal use of faculties or had a .08% or higher blood alcohol concentration. Defending a boating-while-intoxicated charge may involve showing the operator's had full normal of his/her mental and physical faculties and lower blood alcohol. Evidence of impaired operation or higher blood alcohol may also be constitutionally or factually inadmissible, depending on the circumstances.
Get Premier Help for Your DWI Defense
Expert representation can successfully defend a boating-while-intoxicated charge, even if the boat had open intoxicants. If you face a boating-while-intoxicated charge any where in Texas, retain Texas Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy to aggressively assert your intoxication defenses. Doug Murphy has published a treatise in state and national legal publications on how to defend boating while intoxicated (BWI) cases and defeat floating and seated field sobriety tests. Trust 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy to beat your boating-while-intoxicated charge. Attorney Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case today.