Tag Archives: Drunk driving in the United States
Posted by Texas Criminal Defense on July 1, 2011 in Alcohol Related Offenses, BWI - Boating While Intoxicated, DUI - Driving Under the Influence, DWI - Driving While Intoxicated, Juvenile Offenses, Legal Rights, PI - Public Intoxication, Texas Laws
Tags: attorney, austin, bastrop, bwi, county, criminal defense, criminal defense attorney, drinking, Driving under the influence, Drunk driving in the United States, dui, dwi, felony, Georgetown, hays, holiday weekend, law, lawyer, legal advice, legal rights, misdemeanor, no refusal, san marcos, texas, travis, williamson
With summer activities kicking into full gear and people beginning to relax on their boats throughout the Austin lake ways of Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties it’s a great time to discuss Boating While Intoxicated.
Many people are unaware that Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) is a crime but it is and was responsible for more than 300 arrests in Texas in 2010. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.06, BWI is a Class B misdemeanor. It is illegal to operate a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher (the same BAC that will result in an arrest for a DWI). You may also be charged with BWI in Texas if you are operating a boat and do not have normal use of your mental or physical facilities due to alcohol or drugs.
- A BWI carries the same penalty as a DWI.
- A first conviction can result in a fine up to $2,000 and/or jail time up to 180 days.
- A second conviction can result in a fine up to $4,000 and/or jail time up to one year.
- A third conviction can result in a fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time of 2-10 years.
- If you are found boating while intoxicated on a vessel that has an engine over 50 horsepower (this includes boats and jet skis), your license will automatically be suspended.
Unlike a DWI an officer is not required to have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop your boat and test you for suspected impairment. On a boat, you can be stopped at the officer’s discretion to check the boat for safety floatation devices. The officer may then proceed to conduct a sobriety test based on factors he witnesses while on the boat such as smelling alcohol on breath, bloodshot eyes or a red face. Some of these factors could easily be explained as sun exposure but will frequently lead officers to conduct field sobriety tests. Officers may also stop boaters for other reasons including: driving the boat too fast for the waterway, aggressive turns, or failure to turn on lights and other equipment.
To investigate whether a person was boating while intoxicated an officer will likely perform some sobriety tests on the water to determine if there is reason to conduct a further investigation on land. The tests performed “on the water” will likely include such things as reciting the alphabet and divided attention tests (including hand-palm touches or a finger count). Officers are instructed to wait 15 minutes before administering sobriety tests on land, so that a person may regain his equilibrium after being removed from water to land.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from being charged with a BWI is to appoint a designated driver or don’t drink and drive.
If you have any questions about what constitutes Boating While Intoxicated or have been charged with an alcohol related offense, feel free to visit us on Facebook and post a question, leave a comment or fill out a free case evaluation form with no obligation.
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My son was charged with Driving under the Influence? What does this mean? What do I need to know?
Texas law states that a minor (under the age of 21) commits an offense of a DUI (a Class C misdemeanor) if he operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system. This is a much lower standard than is required to arrest a person for a DWI. A detectable amount means that a minor does not have to have a Blood Alcohol Content level of .08 or higher like with a DWI, but can be arrested for simply the smell of alcohol on his breath.
More than likely your son was either issued a citation — along with a notice of license suspension for this charge or he may have been arrested; both are permissible by law. During the initial traffic stop, after the officer determines that the person they are investigating is in fact a minor, he may issue a citation for a less serious offense or decide to conduct field sobriety tests if he has reasonable suspicion to believe the minor was severely impaired. If the officer arrests him for not satisfactorily completing the field sobriety tests, he may also request a breath or blood specimen to test his blood alcohol content. When your son was charged with DUI, his license will be suspended. The suspension is the same administrative license revocation (ALR) process that is used in DWI cases. There is a 15 day period to request a hearing after being issued a citation or being arrested for a DUI to contest the license suspension.
If this was the first time the minor was stopped for drinking and driving, the judge may order:
a 60 day driver’s license suspension;
up to a $500 fine;
20 to 40 hours of community service;
and/or mandatory attendance of alcohol-awareness classes.
If he doesn’t complete the conditions set out by the judge within the allotted time, then his license may be suspended for up to six months.
If this isn’t the minor’s first time being convicted of a DUI then the judge may order:
A fine between $500 and $2,000;
40 to 60 hours of community service,
and a sentence of up to 180 days in jail.
If your son is under the age of 18, the court may require you or another parent/guardian be present with your son at every court appearance. The court may also require you attend the alcohol-awareness class with your son. However, the court may allow an attorney to appear on your son’s behalf at the court appearances.
Just because he is under the age of 21 does not mean he will automatically be charged with a DUI rather than a DWI. An officer may arrest a minor for the more serious offense of DWI if the circumstances warrant such a charge.
If the minor had a BAC of .08 or greater he could be punished with the same penalties that apply to a DWI:
a $2,000 fine,
72 hours to 180 days in jail,
and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days to one year.
Having your son or daughter arrested or issued a citation for a DWI or DUI can be very stressful and nerve racking for you as a parent. You need to find a reputable attorney that will fight hard to have your child’s case dismissed and will fight as if it were for their own child.
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