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What Is a BWI?

Hot Texas summers mean a lot of activity on area lakes. Boaters who are looking forward to long days on the lake need to be aware of laws related to drinking while operating a personal watercraft. Just as the driver of a vehicle can be arrested for a DWI, boaters can get a boating while intoxicated charge.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, half of all boating accidents are related to alcohol use. A BWI is charged when the boat’s operator’s alcohol level is .08 or higher and/or they appear to be impaired, just like for operators of motor vehicles. Those who are arrested for a BWI face the possibility of a number of consequences. These include:

  • Immediate license suspension
  • A maximum fine of $2,000 and/or
  • Up to 180 days in jail

Boaters should also be aware how many alcoholic drinks result in an illegal limit. According to FindLaw, this number is dependent on a variety of factors. Height and weight play a big role, which is why most men are able to drink more than females. Alcohol levels are also affected by how much food one has had to eat and each individual’s metabolism rate. Other factors include:

  • The type of alcohol
  • How fast the alcohol is consumed
  • The type of food consumed
  • Body’s proportion of fat vs muscle

Depending on these factors, it may take anywhere from one drink an hour for a small female to five or more drinks an hour for a large man. Because it is hard to tell when you have had too much to drink it is best to refrain when operating a boat or other vehicle in order to play it safe.