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Flying and Boating While Intoxicated…Overview of Tx Law

Texas Penal Code 49.05, 49.06 – Flying While Intoxicated; Boating While Intoxicated

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Is operating a boat or flying a plane under the influence of alcohol illegal?

Yes; Section 49.05 and 49.06 tell us that operating a watercraft or aircraft “while intoxicated” is illegal.

What does“intoxicated” mean?

49.01(2)(A)-(B) tell us that “intoxicated” means having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more.

However, the statute tells us it can also mean that you simply do not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties because of alcohol, an illegal drug, a legal drug, or a combination of those substances.

Boating While Intoxicated

Section 49.06(a) tells us that it is illegal to operate a “watercraft” while intoxicated.

What is a “watercraft?”

49.01(4) tells us a “watercraft” is a vessel, one or more water skis, an aquaplane, or any other device used for transporting or carrying people over water, so long as the device is propelled by something other than just the current of the water.

What are the penalties for operating a boat while intoxicated?

49.06(b) tells that a first offense is a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense. The first conviction can result in a fine up to $2,000 and jail time up to 180 days.

The statute also tells us that, if convicted, a person must spend a minimum of at least 3 days in jail.

A second offense, however, is a Class A misdemeanor, punished by up a fine up to $4,000 and potentially up to a year in prison.

For a second offense, if convicted a person must spend a minimum of 30 days in jail.

Worse still, a third conviction is no longer a misdemeanor but now a Third-Degree felony. Punishment for a third offense is a fine up to $10,000 and 2-10 years in jail.

The punishments are even stricter if you cause the injury of a first responder or cause the death of another individual.

Flying while intoxicated

49.05(a) tells us it is illegal to operate an aircraft while intoxicated.

What is an “aircraft?”

The statute does not tell us what the specific definition of “aircraft” is. However, it is likely broadly defined like the definition of “watercraft.”

What is the punishment for flying while intoxicated?

The punishment for flying while intoxicated is the same as discussed above for boating while intoxicated. As a refresher, it is:

  • A Class B misdemeanor for a first offense (potential fine up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail, with a minimum of 3 days in jail).
  • A Class A misdemeanor for a second offense (potential fine up to $4,000 and up to 1 year in jail, with a minimum of 30 days in jail).
  • A Third-Degree felony for a third offense (potential $10,000 fine and 2-10 years in jail).