Texas open container laws do not apply to boats. You can drink alcohol while boating in Texas without breaking the law. However, it is illegal to operate a boat while intoxicated. 

What Are the Texas Boating DUI Laws?

Texas Penal Code §49.06 makes boating while intoxicated illegal. It is unlawful for a person to operate a watercraft while intoxicated. The offense is usually a Class B misdemeanor, but it can be increased if specific aggravating factors are present.

You can be found guilty of boating while intoxicated if:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit of .08%; OR,
  • Your mental or physical faculties are impaired by alcohol.

Therefore, you could be arrested and convicted of a boating DUI even if your BAC is below the legal limit. The state would need to prove that the alcohol in your system impaired your ability to operate the boat. 

What Are the Penalties for Drinking and Boating in Texas?

If you are convicted of boating while intoxicated, you face up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine for a first offense. A second offense could result in up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. A third boating DUI could result in up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

However, the penalties for boating under the influence increase if you cause an accident that results in injury or death. A first offense boating DUI that results in serious injury is a felony charge. You could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Civil Penalties for a Boating DUI Accident in Texas

In addition to criminal penalties, a person could face civil penalties for causing injuries while operating a boat under the influence. A personal injury case is separate from a criminal case. An injured party can file a civil claim regardless of whether the person is found guilty of DUI while boating. 

The civil claim seeks compensation for injuries and damages that resulted from the boating accident. Compensation can include economic and non-economic damages such as:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Impairments and disabilities
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Rehabilitative therapies
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Reduction in earning capacity
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Diminished quality of life 

Before you can recover compensation for damages, you must prove that the person’s actions caused your injuries. Drinking while boating is not sufficient by itself to prove the person caused your injuries. You must have evidence that proves the person’s conduct directly and proximately resulted in your injuries.

Common Injuries Sustained in Boating Accidents 

Boating accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and deaths. A collision could throw someone from the boat. Dangerous conditions on the boat could cause slips and falls. 

Common boating accident injuries include, but are not limited to:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Burns
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Amputations and loss of limbs
  • Drownings 
  • Internal organ injury

Boating injuries can cause significant financial losses, pain, and suffering. The steps you take after a boating accident can impact the outcome of your case. Talking to a Houston boating accident lawyer is one of the best ways to protect your right to fair compensation for your injuries and damages. 

What Should I Do if I Am Injured in a Boating Accident?

If you are injured in a boating accident in Texas, report the accident immediately to the authorities. Texas law requires that operators report accidents and casualties to local law enforcement or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. If the operator refuses to report the accident, contact the authorities yourself. 

Ask eyewitnesses and people who stop to help for their names and contact information. If it is safe to do so, take pictures and gather other evidence at the accident scene. 

Seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries. Documenting your injuries is crucial for a personal injury claim. Prompt medical treatment protects your health and helps with your case.

Contact a Houston boating accident lawyer as soon as possible. Boating accident claims are complicated personal injury cases. In addition to personal injury laws, boating regulations and maritime injury laws could impact the case. 

Therefore, you want an experienced attorney to handle your boating accident case. An attorney has the resources and legal knowledge to pursue a claim for damages. Working directly with the boater or their insurance provider without an attorney could result in a significantly lower settlement amount. 

Contact the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help

For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
United States

Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
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