You’re on the boat, which means you’re likely already looking to relax.
But if you add alcohol to the mix, you increase the potential for hurting yourself, others, property or possibly facing jail time.
Have fun and enjoy Brazos River Authority reservoirs, but do so responsibly. Just like anyone operating a vehicle, someone operating a boat is considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol level is 0.08 or greater. Have a designated driver operate the boat or simply choose to leave the booze back at the docks. The consequences just aren’t worth tempting.
Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths and a major factor in accidents on the water, according to Operation Dry Water, a national boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign.
Alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time and cause fatigue, according to the organization. The sun, wind, noise, vibration and rocking of the boat are all "stressors" common to the boating environment that can intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications, according to the group. Boating under the influence applies to drugs, as well as alcohol.
Boating while intoxicated can shatter someone’s life, even when they weren’t the one breaking the law.
And if caught, boat operators could face stiff fines.
Texas law establishes the following penalties for BWI, according to Boat-ed.com.
- First conviction carries a fine of up to $2,000 and/or jail time of up to 180 days.
- Second conviction carries a fine of up to $4,000 and/or jail time of up to one year.
- Third conviction carries a fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail time of 2–10 years.
Enjoy the water this summer. But make sure everyone else gets the chance to do the same.
Learn from other’s mistakes. Here are some recent field notes from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens:
- Pier Pressure
Two Polk County game wardens were patrolling Lake Livingston when they began watching a vessel as it approached a boat ramp nearby. Onboard, the male operating the boat switched places with a female subject before switching again once they approached the dock. When the wardens contacted the male subject, they detected a strong smell of alcohol. A standard field sobriety test was conducted, and the male was arrested for Boating While Intoxicated. His charges were enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor due to this being his second intoxication offense.
- Whiskey River
While patrolling the Neches River, a Hardin County game warden stopped a small aluminum boat for not displaying navigation lights. Three men were in the boat, one of whom was passed out on the floor of the boat. The warden performed a water safety inspection, and in addition to there not being enough life jackets on board, the warden found beer cans and whiskey bottles strewn about the boat. The boat’s operator admitted that he had consumed several beers, and had taken a couple of shots of whiskey, prior to operating the boat. The warden conducted a standard field sobriety test once the subject was onshore. The man operating the boat was placed under arrest for Boating While Intoxicated and then booked into the Harden County Jail.
- You Must Be This Tall to Drive
Denton County game wardens patrolling Lake Lewisville noticed a boat with an adult male driving and a child as his passenger. Minutes later, they noticed the same boat entering a local marina but with the child operating the boat. Upon conducting a water safety inspection and discussing a malfunctioning navigational light with the adult, one of the wardens noticed the smell of alcohol and numerous cues that he was impaired. Since the adult had just been observed operating the boat only a few minutes earlier, he was arrested for Boating While Intoxicated.