In Texas, is it legal to drink beer while driving a boat? Here’s the law

Drinking alcohol on a boat is a popular summer activity, but it could lead to jail time in Texas.

Though passengers are allowed to have open cups, cansand bottles of alcohol on board, the driver can’t drink or have any open alcohol nearby, according to Texas law.

Driving a boat while intoxicated has serious consequences, including fines up to $2,000, having your boating and driver license suspended, or 180 days in jail for the first offense.

If an intoxicated boater causes an accident, the penalties could be increased. This also applies to kayaks, canoes and other motorized watercraft.

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Boating while intoxicated

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for determining a boater’s intoxication level is the same as it is for motor vehicles in Texas: 0.08 percent.

The boater could be charged with boating while intoxicated (BWI), classified as a misdemeanor, if their blood alcohol concentration is more than the legal limit or if drinking impairs their mental or physical abilities.

Texas law is strict about boating under the influence because alcohol can affect one’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time — all of which are critical skills for boat navigation.

Alcohol is the main cause of boating accidents in the state, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife.

A 2023 study by Captain Experiences, an online platform that helps people find and book fishing and hunting trips, found Texas had the 13th-highest number of boating deaths nationwide.

The study, which used recreational boating records from the U.S. Coast Guard, discovered that between 2018 and 2022, 1,108 accidents on Texas waters claimed the lives of 232 persons and caused $12 million in physical damage.