Up until now, of all the crimes you hypothesized you could commit and get arrested for, we are certain one has never streamed into your mind. That thought is whether or not you could get arrested for Boating While Intoxicated as you paddle a canoe. Under the strictest interpretation of Texas Penal Code, Chapter 49, it looks like you can get arrested.
Let’s assume you’ve had a very nice picnic downstream, and it’s time to head upriver. Somehow, during this picnic you became intoxicated, which means you have lost the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or by having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
No problem, you think, this canoe doesn’t have a motor, and you’re going to take a nice easy trip upriver, and nap it off under the old oak tree by the launch site. You have a life preserver on even. This seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Well, here is some bad news, a canoe which is being paddled is a watercraft under Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code. A “watercraft”, as far as the Texas Penal Code under Chapter 49 is concerned, means a vessel, one or more water skis, an aquaplane, or another device used for transporting or carrying a person on water, other than a device propelled only by the current of water. If you’re using an oar to propel the canoe; it’s a watercraft as it’s being propelled by something other than the current of the water.
Certainly, though, they did not intend to include paddling your own canoe under the boating while intoxicated statute, right? That is not so clear. The law states that “a person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a watercraft.” As we know, a watercraft can include a canoe being paddled by its operator.
Therefore, if you are intoxicated and paddling a canoe, you are committing the offense of boating while intoxicated and a peace officer may arrest you. If you get arrested for boating while intoxicated while operating your canoe, kayak, paddle board, dingy, inflatable boat, john boat, power boat, ski boat, yacht, or series of logs strung together with rope, you should hire a criminal defense attorney to help you out.