Flying While Intoxicated? Boating? Amusement Ride Operating?

Kaufman County had a rare flying while intoxicated arrest this week. Allegedly, the pilot landed on FM 429 and was arrested shortly after.

Best quote about this arrest from Kaufman Chief Public Defender Andrew Jordan. “This defendant may have trouble making bail… because he poses a flight risk.” Rim shot!

In my entire legal career I had never seen a Texas FWI case. It just doesn’t happen that often. First, most pilots don’t land near police officers. They go from small airport to small airport. Second, we don’t have any aeronautic speed traps. Pilots don’t face the constant leo harrassment that drivers face. If you can find a way to only commute in an airplane, you’d save a lot in potential traffic tickets/police harassment (thought not enough to cover your airplane overhead).

I’m not sure most people know that FWI is a crime in Texas. When most people think “while intoxicated”, they think driving, not flying, or assembling an amusement ride, which is also illegal.

I’m on a boat!

Boating while intoxicated is another one that most people aren’t aware of until they get arrested. I’ve been on many Texas lakes and spent a fair amount of time observing the lake going public. Many of you think intoxication is the point of going out on Joe Pool etc. Unfortunately, § 49.06. BOATING WHILE INTOXICATED. (a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a watercraft. (b) Except as provided by Section 49.09, an offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours. the kill joys in the legislature want to ruin your Cedar Creek lake cruise.

Keep any eye out for the LEO on the lake. Aqua fuzz doesn’t need a reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop your boat and bust up your party. Lake cops have the power to do a “safety check” sans cause, because nothing makes you feel safer than a few cops on your boat.

How are safety checks constitutional?
Good question. First, this is Texas, everything law enforcement does is constitutional. Ok, seriously our state’s highest criminal court decided that the State could keep us safer, if we ignored the 4th Amendment, and got rid of the whole warrant/probable cause/reasonable suspicion paradigm for boats. We traded our maritime liberty for the State’s false promise of boat safety.

BWI presents a whole slew of logistical problems for law enforcement. Try and do field sobriety tests on a boat. The one leg stand and walk and turn are BS on land. On the lake, or with a person who just gotten off a boat, it’s comedy. That leaves only the completely discredited HGN for many BWI defendants.

So remember, if you’re flying, or boating, or amusement ride operating, be wary of your alcohol intake, and be careful not to cross our State’s arbitrary unknowable make believe “intoxication” threshold.

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