BWI

Roadways are not the only places in Texas where people can be arrested for operating vehicles while intoxicated. High temperatures often lead to more people taking to the water, and it is not uncommon for alcoholic beverages to be consumed on boats and other vessels in the Lone Star State.

However, the person who is operating any sort of watercraft can be charged with boating while intoxicated (BWI) if he or she is allegedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The penalties for a BWI conviction are largely similar to those for driving while intoxicated (DWI) on a Texas highway, and alleged offenders face the possibility of big fines, lengthy imprisonment, and other consequences.

Lake Lewisville BWI Lawyer

Were you arrested for BWI in Denton County? Criminal defense attorneys Richard C. McConathy and Brian A. Bolton have more than two decades of combined experience handling cases involving alleged intoxication, and they fight to achieve the most favorable outcome in these types of cases.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represents clients all over Lewisville, including nearby communities like Denton, Grapevine, and Westlake. We represent anyone accused of BUI at any of the lakes in the area, including Lewisville Lake, Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Bridgeport. Our firm can review your case and discuss your legal options when you call 940-222-8004 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


Denton County BWI Information Center


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Denton County Boating While Intoxicated Charges

Under Texas Penal Code § 49.06, BWI is defined as a person being intoxicated while operating a watercraft. This offense is classified as a Class B misdemeanor.

The Texas Penal Code defines intoxicated as meaning a person either has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or does not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body. A watercraft can mean any of the following:

  • A vessel
  • One or more water skis
  • An aquaplane
  • Another device used for transporting or carrying a person on water, other than a device propelled only by the current of water

It is also important to understand that a person may face aggravated charges if he or she causes an accident resulting serious bodily injury to or the death of another person as a result of operating a watercraft while intoxicated. In these cases, an alleged offender can be charged with:

  • Intoxication Assault, Texas Penal Code § 49.07 — A person commits this offense if he or she, by accident or mistake, while operating a watercraft while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another person. This offense is classified as a third-degree felony.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter, Texas Penal Code § 49.08 — A person commits this offense if he or she operates a watercraft, is intoxicated, and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.                                                                                                                                                    

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Texas Penalties for Operating a Vessel While Drunk

The punishments that an alleged offender faces if convicted for BWI depend on his or her criminal history and whether any other people were injured or killed as a result of the alleged act. Some of the possible consequences of a conviction can include:

  • First BWI Conviction — Up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000
  • Second BWI Conviction — Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000
  • Third or Subsequent BWI Conviction — Up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Intoxication Assault — Up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Intoxication Manslaughter — Up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000

A BWI conviction can also result in additional penalties that may include driver’s license suspension, annual Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver Responsibility Surcharge, community service, and other court or administrative costs.


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BWI Defenses in Denton County

Much like traditional DWI arrests, people who have been arrested of BWI should know that an arrest does not translate to an automatic conviction. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, some possible defenses that could result in the charges against you being reduced or dismissed can include, but are not limited to:

  • Impact of Marine Environment — The heat, wind, or glare on the water from the sun can all impact an alleged offender’s performance on field sobriety tests. Even when law enforcement conducts these tests on land after giving an alleged offender time to adjust, the effects can still linger for a person who has been on the water.
  • Alleged Intoxication Symptoms Not Related to Alcohol — The “red eyes” and “flushed face” that are common observations in DWI arrests can very easily be explained by time spent on the water rather than being alleged signs of intoxication.
  • Improperly Administered Alcohol Concentration Test — As is the case with DWI arrests, all blood, breath, or urine tests need to follow very specific procedures in order to guarantee accurate results. If the arresting officer deviated from protocol, it can result in an alleged offender’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) being suppressed and inadmissible in court.

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Texas Boating While Intoxicated Resources

Denton County Sheriff's Office Patrol — The Special Enforcement Unit (SEU) of the Denton County Sheriff’s Office Patrol division has two marked patrol boats and two jet skis. This page provides information on warrants, crime preventions, and criminal investigations.

127 North Woodrow Lane
Denton, TX 76205-6397
(940) 349-1700

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD): Texas Boater Frequently Asked Questions — This website contains answers to the most frequently asked questions about boater education and operator requirements. There is also a link to the water safety digest, which contains additional frequently asked questions.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Lewisville Lake Boat Ramps — On this website, you can find a list of all boat ramps at Lewisville Lake, the corresponding managing agency, and whether a Corps Annual Pass is accepted at these locations. There is also information about camping, day usage, and phone numbers.


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Find A BWI Lawyer in Lewisville

There are different rules on the water than there are on the road, as marine officers in Texas do not need probable cause to inspect watercrafts for safety compliance. However, if you have been charged with BWI in Denton County, you will want to have an experienced criminal defense attorney investigate your arrest and help work towards the most favorable outcome.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy aggressively defends clients in Lewisville against BWI charges, and we also serve other Denton County communities like The Colony, Little Elm, and Flower Mound. Call 940-222-8004 right now to set up a free consultation that will allow our firm to review your case and begin developing a formidable legal defense.

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Denton, TX
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405 TX-121 a250 Lewisville, TX 75067
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I can’t say enough great things about the attorneys at this law firm. Within a few months they had my case, which I thought I was going to lose, dismissed and put my life back on track. I would recommend their firm to anyone and everyone who is in need of legal help.

Leslie L. Denton County DWI

A few months before I moved out of Texas, I was arrested for DWI. The problem was I was building a new life in another state with greater opportunities. I needed to find an attorney to handle my special situation being an out of state client who also travels out of the country. My case was in Denton County, which I have heard is a very difficult county to deal with. Because of my job I was in need of special accommodations from the court so I would not lose my career. After several months of tough negotiations with the DA, Richard and Brian were able to finalize my case beyond my expectations. I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone who has run into some trouble anywhere they might get a DWI.

Stephanie C. Denton County DWI
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