Austin and the surrounding Highland Lakes areas have always had a strong boating and lake culture. Unfortunately our waterways, just like our roadways, are becoming more congested as the population in Austin and all of Central Texas has grown and as our city receives visitors during holiday and festival weekends. Congested waterways and boating can present specific hazards to innocent victims enjoying all that Austin’s lakes have to offer. Boating accidents are typically caused by:
- Uninformed or inexperienced drivers
- Underage drivers
- Distracted drivers
- Negligent or Inebriated drivers
According to the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife, which routinely polices our inland waterways, more than 50% of boating fatalities in Texas occur as the result of an intoxicated boat operator.
Boating While Intoxicated
In Texas, Boating While Intoxicated (“BWI”) cases are on the rise, and in conjunction with more congested waterways, is a recipe for disaster. Consider the average boating collision and the differences between it and a motor vehicle collision: boats don’t have seatbelts, air bags, or an external structure to protect you from being ejected from the watercraft. For these reasons, boating accidents can result in devastating injuries and death. The most frequent type of Texas boating accident death occurs from an occupant being ejected from the boat during a collision, and drowning. Other injuries that can occur from a boating accident are broken bones, severe lacerations (from outboard motorboats), traumatic brain injuries, and severe burns.
In Texas, Boating While Intoxicated laws allows for any operator of a watercraft to be arrested for BWI if they have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. A person arrested for BWI in Texas can be jailed for up to 180 days, fined as much as $2,000.00, and have their driver’s license suspended.
Most Texas boating accident deaths involve:
- An open motorboat;
- Occur on the weekends between the hours of noon and 7 p.m.;
- A victim falling overboard; and,
- An operator between the ages of 26-50 years of age.
If you are going to be out on one of the many Texas waterways enjoying recreational boating and adult beverages, designate a driver. BWI in Texas is not just a problem for the arrested driver, it can result in lifelong injuries to the victims of a collision.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, call our office today for a free consultation.