DWI / DUI

Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)

Have you been arrested after a day of relaxing and having a few beers with friends while out on your boat? If so, you were most likely charged with a boating while intoxicated (BWI). In Texas, enforcement efforts against BWI are on the rise. Texas has more miles of inland water than any other state and that number is accompanied by the highest number of boat related fatalities of any state. If you are charged with a BWI in the Houston area, trust your defense to a highly trained Houston BWI defense attorney at our firm.

Defense for Drunk Boating in Houston, Texas

A BWI in Texas is very similar to its legal cousin, the driving while intoxicated (DWI). The standards for charging a person are the same in that it is unlawful to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08 grams. It is also unlawful to operate a boat in a dangerous manner due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Other similarities between the two are that very steep penalties are common.

The following penalties are imposed upon first conviction of a Texas BWI and subsequent convictions can cost more:

  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Incarceration up to 180 days
  • Automatic License Revocation if a Chemical Test Is Refused


While there are distinct similarities between a Texas BWI and a DWI, there are also some major differences. The biggest and most obvious difference is that a BWI relates to operating a boat while intoxicated on a waterway, rather than a motor vehicle on land. In the case of a BWI, law enforcement officers do not have to demonstrate probable cause or reasonable suspicion in order to initiate contact with a boat operator.

Officers can stop a boater and board the vessel under the premise of conducting a “safety check” and develop their case from that point if their observations indicate that the operator has been drinking. Differences also exist with the manner in which officers can screen operators for BWI through field sobriety tests.

Defending Boating While Intoxicated Charges

The unique circumstances that commonly surround BWI arrests require a different type of defense to be mounted. An experienced lawyer knows just how to handle these situations and will be able to pinpoint common weaknesses in the state’s case such as how field sobriety was administered and other observations. If you find yourself facing a BWI in Conroe, Houston or anywhere in Texas, contact the Law Offices of Billy Skinner to protect your rights and ensure a strong defense against your charges.

We fight charges throughout Houston and Texas. You can call (713) 600-7777 to contact us today.