BWI Laws and Consequences
While BWI laws are similar to those for driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses, there is a key difference that is important to understand. Law enforcement authorities must have probable cause to stop a driver under suspicion of DWI, but they do not need probable cause to board and inspect a boat. You can be randomly stopped for a safety check, and the officer can lawfully take advantage of the opportunity to assess you for potential intoxication.
You can be convicted of BWI for driving a motor-propelled water vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. A first offense BWI, a class B misdemeanor, is punishable by a minimum jail stay of 72 hours and up to 180 days of incarceration. There is also a $2,000 fine and automatic suspension of your driver’s license for six months.
If you are accused of a misdemeanor or felony BWI, Jason Trumpler will work to protect your rights and can potentially have the charges dismissed or lessened in severity.
For a BAC higher than .15%, punishment can include a fine up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year. All penalties can be heightened if you have a prior conviction on your record. If you are involved in a boating injury accident while intoxicated, you can be charged with the felony crime of Intoxication Assault. When an accident involves a fatality, the offense rises to Intoxication Manslaughter, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Defense for a Boating Intoxication Charge
Trumpler Law has mounted many successful defenses for clients accused of BWI. For example, there are often potential questions surrounding sobriety testing procedures and the results. A standardized field sobriety test (SFST) should never be conducted aboard a boat. A smooth, level surface is required for an accurate test of balance and coordination.
In addition, protocol asks officers to wait 15 minutes after a suspect has reached land to conduct a SFST. It is normal for boaters to feel the effects of “sea legs,” which can impact test performance. Boating fatigue is common after hours spent on the water, and a person's ability to perform complex physical tests is questionable. We may also question a water patrol officer’s qualifications to analyze test results.
As in DUI cases, the results of BWI breathalyzer tests and even blood tests can be effectively challenged. With years of experience defending these types of charges, Jason Trumpler is well versed in this area of the law, and has achieved successful outcomes for many past clients.
Contact Our Firm
If you are accused of a misdemeanor or felony BWI, please seek legal help. Jason Trumpler will work to protect your rights and can potentially have the charges dismissed or lessened in severity. Our firm offers a free consultation, as well as bail and release support, if needed. Please contact us online or for immediate assistance, call our 24-hour line at (512) 457-5200.