Boating While Intoxicated: Texas Penal Code §49.06

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Boating While Intoxicated law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you were intoxicated while operating a boat or other watercraft.

Boating While Intoxicated is grouped together with DWI and other drunk driving crimes in the Penal Code. Many of the penalties and procedures are similar for all of these offenses. Learn more about DWIs in Texas

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Interestingly, Boating While Intoxicated does not qualify under the definition of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated under Penal Code Section 49.09, which means that it does not qualify for the new fines imposed by the 86th Texas Legislature.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 49.06. The law was not updated in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 1993.

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Boating While Intoxicated law under Title 10 “Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, And Morals,” Chapter 49 “Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Boating While Intoxicated below.

What is the current Texas law about Boating While Intoxicated?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Boating While Intoxicated in Penal Code Section §49.06 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a watercraft.

Boating While Intoxicated shares several of the same criminal elements as the DWI offense.The element of intoxication is identical, and perhaps the most critical element to this offense. Learn more about the definition of intoxication.

How can I be charged with a Boating While Intoxicated offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Boating While Intoxicated in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 49.06(a) as described in the section above have been met. Of these, probably the most contest element is “intoxication.” Learn more about what it means to be intoxicated under Texas law

What is the statute of limitation for Boating While Intoxicated in Texas?

Misdemeanor level Boating While Intoxicated charges have a two-year limitations period.[2] Felony level offenses have a three-year limitations period.[3]

What is the penalty for a Texas Boating While Intoxicated offense?

A conviction for Boating While Intoxicated in Texas is punished as a Class B misdemeanor,[4] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $2000 and jail time of up to 180 days. There is a minimum term of confinement, however, of 72 hours in jail.[5] Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

The state can also seek a repeat offender enhancement, including up to the felony level, for third or subsequent convictions or if you have a prior Intoxication Manslaughter conviction.[6]

Can you get probation for Boating While Intoxicated in Texas?

The Code of Criminal Procedure allows deferred adjudication pleas for Boating While Intoxicated unless the defendant held a commercial driver’s license or a commercial learner’s permit, or the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration was over 0.15, or the defendant had a prior DWI or BWI.[7] However, the Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation.[8]

What level of crime is Boating While Intoxicated in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Boating While Intoxicated as a Class B misdemeanor by default. However, the state may seek a repeat offender enhancement all the way up to the felony level.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §49.06. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^3. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^4. Texas Penal Code §49.06(b)^5. Texas Penal Code §49.06(b)^6. Texas Penal Code §49.09^7. Art. 42A.102(b)(1)(B)&(C), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.^8. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054 and Art. 42A.056.

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