Drunk Boating the Same as Drunk Driving in Texas

Texas BWIOn the eve of one of the busiest boating holidays in Texas, state officials want to remind everyone heading to the lake that operating a boat while intoxicated (BWI) is just as punishable as a driving while intoxicated (DWI). Capt. Scott Haney, who is in charge of the Fort Worth District for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, states "people just don’t think of drinking and driving a boat the same way they do in a car, which is wrong." Both require skills that can be impaired by drinking, and he affirms "the laws are the same."

The legal threshold for blood alcohol level while boating is .08, the same as driving. Being arrested for boating while intoxicated can result in a jail term of 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000. In addition, a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for refusal to submit to a breath test if stopped for suspicion of boating while impaired.

The consequences of drunk boating can be as deadly as drunk driving too. On August 18 Britteny Lindt was enjoying a day at the lake when she was run over and killed by an intoxicated boater. The 15 year old was in an inner tube being pulled by a jet-ski on Lake Lewisville, north of Dallas, when she fell off. Before the watercraft could come to her aid, Lindt was struck by an 18 foot boat piloted by Adrian Allen Walker.

"Boating while intoxicated is a problem every weekend, not just holiday weekends," Haney said. In a five county area of North Texas patroled by Texas Parks and Wildlife there were 62 tickets issued last year for boating while intoxicated. This year that number is closer to 45 with the majority of citations issued on Lake Lewisville and Lake Texoma.

Texas Parks and Wildlife wardens will be supervising activities on area lakes over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Their jurisdiction is established by the Texas Water Safety Act. On Lake Lewisville their efforts will be aided by officers from the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.

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