Texas has more inland waterways than any other state, and many people choose to enjoy them by spending time out on their boats. Often, relaxing on a boat may include alcohol. Boaters must be aware, though, that DWI laws exist for boats just the same as they do for automobiles.
In the state of Texas, DWI law includes boating under the influence, also known as BUI. Because boats are bigger and heavier than cars, they have the potential to cause far more damage. Boating under the influence causes approximately 34% of all fatal boating accidents each year.
Just like driving a vehicle on land, it is illegal to operate a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Boating with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is unlawful and can result in an arrest.
BUI laws exist to help ensure the safety of everyone out on the water. Serious injuries or fatalities can occur if a boat controlled by an intoxicated driver is involved in an accident. A condition called inattentional blindness, for example, can cause a boater to lose focus, and they may not even be aware of they have struck someone or something, or if they have lost a passenger.
Police BUI Stops
Texas police are permitted to enter a boat at any time, with or without probable cause, in order to perform a safety check. If they suspect that an individual is boating while under the influence, they may be asked to take a field sobriety test. If they are found to have been operating a boat while drunk, they may face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail for a first offense. If their watercraft’s engine is over 50 horsepower, they will also face an automatic license suspension.
What are Your Rights as a BUI Victim?
If you are a victim of a BUI accident, it is important to understand your rights and legal options. You may be entitled to sue for compensation from an at-fault party if you have suffered injuries including:
- Near drowning
- Head, neck, and/or back injuries
- Permanent disability
This compensation can be used to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. You may even be able to sue for punitive damages beyond what you would receive for simple compensation. With the help of a lawyer, you may also be able to collect from their insurance company.
After an accident, it is important to document as much evidence as possible that can be used in your case. Take pictures of where the accident occurred, what property damages or injuries resulted, and what water conditions looked like. Remember not to give any statements to anyone, especially insurance companies, as they may use your words to attempt to avoid a payout. After receiving the medical care you need, contact a Texas personal injury attorney from The Daspit Law Firm as soon as possible. Together, you can begin working toward holding whoever caused your accident responsible for their negligence.
To find out how we can help your case, contact The Daspit Law Firm today.