Austin, TX and San Antonio, TX and many places in between have an abundance of waterways for the recreational boater. The San Antonio DWI lawyers and Austin DWI lawyers at our offices have seen an increase in Boating under the influence (BUI) cases over the past several years. This page will explain what a Texas BUI is, and how to defend yourself against a BUI charge.
Texas DWI law includes boating under the influence. It is illegal to operate any watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Watercraft is defined by the Texas BUI law as any device used to carry to transport a person, but does not include any craft that is propelled only by the water current – such as a rowboat.
BUI law does have some significant differences from Texas DWI law. For instance, a police officer is not allowed to enter your car without your permission, without probable cause, or without a warrant. Police are permitted, however, to board your boat in order to perform a safety check without any of those three things.
Although the police use the same Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’S) for boaters as they use for drivers, these tests were not designed, and have never been tested for application on boaters. As any boater knows, when you are on the water for any length of time, your legs become shaky, your balance is less steady, and you have to take time to adjust to your normal state once you return to land.
The typical clues that police look for in an intoxicated driver are nearly always present in a boater. With the sun beaming on your eyes all day, the wind blowing across your face, and splashes of water in your eyes will cause you to have a disheveled appearance, your eyes will be bloodshot and/or glassy, and you will likely appear unsteady on your feet once you return to land. If you have consumed a beer or two – which is not illegal – you will also have an odor of alcoholic beverages. This is enough for the police to suspect you of boating under the influence.
The San Antonio DWI lawyers, and Austin DWI lawyers, at our offices understand and can relate to the judge or jury how using tests designed for land is inherently unfair and unreliable when related to boaters. The consequences for a Texas BUI are nearly identical to a DWI in Texas. If you have been arrested for a BUI in Texas, then call us right now for a free, no obligation consultation.