Flying While Intoxicated: Texas Penal Code §49.05

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Flying While Intoxicated law makes it illegal to operate an aircraft while intoxicated.

Flying 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.

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What it means to be “intoxicated” has a specific definition under the law. It does not mean “buzzed” or “drunk.”

Interestingly, Flying 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 49.05. The law was not updated in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 1993.

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Flying 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 Flying While Intoxicated below.

What is the current Texas law about Flying While Intoxicated?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Flying While Intoxicated in Penal Code Section §49.05 as follows:[1]

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

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

You can be charged with Flying While Intoxicated in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 49.05(a) as described in the section above have been met.

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

Misdemeanor level Flying 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 Flying While Intoxicated offense?

A conviction for Flying 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. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for Flying While Intoxicated in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits judges from accepting deferred adjudication pleas in Flying While Intoxicated cases.[5] However, the Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation.[6]

What level of crime is Flying While Intoxicated in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Flying While Intoxicated as a Class B misdemeanor. Additionally, the state may seek a repeat DWI enhancement.

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


^1. Texas Penal Code §49.05. 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 §49.05(b)^5. Art. 42A.054, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^6. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054 and Art. 42A.056.


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