What Do I Do if I’m Charged with BWI in Texas?

Boating while intoxicated is considered one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with on Texas waterways. If you’ve been arrested for BWI—whether it was on the Gulf or on a lake, bay, or river—you will face a range of penalties. In this blog, we’ll offer a closer look at the charges for BWI in Texas and tell you what you need to do next.

1. The Penalties

Most first-time BWI cases are classified as Class B misdemeanors. However, the charges can significantly escalate based on the nature of them. If an injury or death occurred at the scene, you’ll face a longer jail sentence, heavier fines, and the loss of your constitutional rights.

Under Texas law, Class B misdemeanors carry a prison sentence of between 72 hours (minimum) and six months (maximum). You will also be required to pay a fine of up to $2,000.

2. Exacerbated Penalties

If you injured or killed someone, you’ll be charged with a third- or second-degree felony. For third-degree felonies, offenders can spend up to 10 years in prison, while second-degree felonies entail a prison sentence of a maximum of 20 years. In both cases, you’ll spend a minimum of two years in jail and pay up to $10,000 in fines.

It’s important to keep the severity of the penalties in mind. Many people take BWI charges lightly and believe they’ll be let off. This isn’t the case. BWI charges are just as serious as DWI charges, if not more so.

3. What Should I Do?

a man boating in Texas

If you were recently arrested for BWI in Texas, your first course of action should be to contact a lawyer. Exercise your right to remain silent. Comply with the officers but don’t provide any information that could potentially be used against you. Don’t perform any dockside coordination tests such as standing on one leg and tipping your head back or touching your nose. These tests are designed to make you look foolish and unstable. You have a right to refuse to perform them.

Maintain your silence until you can talk to your lawyer. They’ll help you understand how to navigate the situation and work toward getting you the best possible outcome. Contact a lawyer who has extensive experience with both DWI and BWI so you can protect your future and freedom.

Recommended Read: Key Differences between BWI and DWI Charges in Texas

BWI charges can affect the trajectory of your life just like DWI charges can. Once the process begins, you’ll be requested to visit the court on several occasions in order to be present before the judge at each step. Your attorney may ask that you take a proactive approach and attend alcohol counseling or AA meetings. This shows the court that you take the charges seriously and understand that there may be things that you could do differently to move your life in a more positive direction. This entire legal process can take several months, so be patient.

Over the years, JL Carpenter has worked on hundreds of BWI cases in the Greater Houston area. She builds an aggressive defense for her clients, helping them achieve the best possible outcome in each case.

JL’s practice areas also include DWI, domestic violence, family violence, and drug possession, among others. Click here to contact her today.