Yes, Texas laws prohibit pilots from flying while drunk or high, referred to as flying while intoxicated. These laws make it illegal for any individual who is intoxicated to operate an aircraft.
Texas Flying While Intoxicated – Penal Code 49.05
What Does It Mean to Drive Under the Influence?
Driving while intoxicated, also sometimes called driving while drunk, refers to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the State of Texas, the blood alcohol content (BAC) level that is considered over the legal limit to drive is 0.08 percent.
There are also BAC limits that exist for operators of other types of vehicles, for example, aircrafts and boats. If an individual has any questions about driving under the influence laws, they should consult with a local Texas lawyer.
What Does It Mean to Be Too Intoxicated to Fly an Aircraft?
To be intoxicated in Texas means the individual does not have the normal use of their physical or mental faculties. The impairment of their physical or mental faculties is due to consuming:
- Alcohol resulting in a BAC level of 0.08 percent or more;
- Other controlled substances; or
- A combination of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances.
What Is Blood or Breath Alcohol Concentration?
Blood alcohol concentration is a measurement of the amount of alcohol that is in an individual’s bloodstream. Breath alcohol concentration is a measurement of the amount of alcohol that is in an individual’s breath.
The term blood alcohol content may also be referred to as blood alcohol concentration or blood alcohol level. In addition, the term breath alcohol content may be referred to as breath alcohol concentration or breath alcohol level.
All of these terms are abbreviated BAC. The amount of alcohol that is present in an individual’s bloodstream is measured in milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 milliliters (ml) of blood.
Typically, this number is expressed as a percentage, for example, 0.08 or 0.15. If an individual has a BAC of .10 percent, their blood supply contains one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts of blood.
An individual’s BAC level is determined through blood testing. Additionally, an individual’s impairment may also be measured through breath alcohol concentration.
Breath alcohol concentration is measured using a breathalyzer, which is referred to as a breathalyzer. When conducting a breathalyzer test, the individual exhales into the breathalyzer machine.
There are a series of chemical reactions that result in the breath of ethanol. This is the intoxicating agent that is found in alcoholic beverages, being converted into an electric current. The amount of current produced is then displayed on the breathalyzer device as the individual’s breath alcohol concentration.
This amount is also expressed as a percentage.
How Many Alcoholic Drinks Until I Am Over the Limit?
The question of how many alcoholic drinks an individual can drink until they are over the legal limit generally refers to how many alcoholic drinks it would take for an individual to be considered legally drunk. What is considered over the limit varies by state.
However, it is typically a blood alcohol level of 0.08. There is no exact answer to determine what number of drinks it would take for an individual to reach the legal limit for driving or flying. However, there is a way to approximate whether an individual may be approaching the legal limit in their state based upon:
- Their weight;
- How much they have had to drink; and
- How long they have been drinking.
For example, if an individual weighs around 100 pounds, they can, in general, only have about one serving of alcohol before being over 0.08 BAC. In addition, this individual would generally only be able to have two services before being above 0.1 for the states where the legal limit is 0.1 BAC.
An individual who is closer to 160 pounds, however, can typically have about 3 servings of alcohol and still be below the legal limit for driving. A good baseline to remember is that, no matter what an individual’s weight is, if they have three servings of alcohol in rapid succession, they are most likely over the legal limit for BAC while driving.
An individual’s BAC will also largely depend on how much time they spend drinking. They may have spaced their drinks out over a long period of time. For example, in a few hours, their blood alcohol level will be significantly lower than an individual who had the same amount of drinks in the span of one hour.
In general, an individual can subtract 0.01% from their estimated blood alcohol level for every forty minutes that go by while they are drinking. As noted above, the majority of states set the legal limit for drunk driving at .08%.
This means that if an individual is caught driving with a BAC of over 0.08%, they will likely be charged with Driving Under the Influence or DUI. This may also apply to boating while intoxicated and flying while drunk.
In addition, there are many jurisdictions that enforce a zero-tolerance policy for minors. This means that minors are not permitted to have any alcohol in their system while they are driving, even if it is only 0.01%.
In terms of what constitutes one serving of alcohol, one drink may mean:
- A 12-ounce beer;
- A 4-ounce glass of wine;
- 1-ounce of hard liquor.
What Are Some Other Factors That Could Contribute to a Person’s Blood Alcohol Level?
As previously noted, the amount of drinks an individual consumes, the weight of the drinker, and the time between drinks are important factors for estimating an individual’s alcohol level. However, certain other factors may also contribute to an individual’s blood alcohol level. These may include:
- Fatigue: Exhaustion can significantly increase an individual’s blood alcohol level when they are drinking. It is important to note that even if an individual has not had much to drink, fatigue can adversely affect their judgment in similar ways as alcohol;
- Medications: There are certain types of medications that can have adverse side effects when they are taken with alcohol. It is imperative to check the warning labels on any medications that an individual takes, whether prescriptive or over the counter;
- Food: Drinking on an empty stomach can increase an individual’s blood alcohol level significantly when compared to if they had been eating before or while they were drinking.
Is This Crime the Same as Having a DUI in Texas?
In most aspects, flying while under the influence is the same as driving under the influence. This law, however, only applies to an aircraft, not to a motor vehicle.
What Is the Penalty for Operating an Aircraft While Intoxicated?
Flying an aircraft while intoxicated is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. This means an offender will face:
- 180 days in county jail;
- A criminal fine of $4,000;
- A combination of fines and county jail time.
The minimum jail time for this offense is three days.
Will I Face a Tough Penalty if This Is My Second Flying While Intoxicated Offense?
Yes, an individual will face tougher penalties for their second flying while intoxicated offense. An individual’s second flying while intoxicated offense will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
The potential punishments for this offense would be:
- Approximately one year in county jail;
- A $4,000 criminal fine;
- A combination of both criminal fines and jail time.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have been charged with flying while intoxicated in Texas, it is in your best interests to consult with a Texas DUI/DWI lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you on the laws of Texas, the punishments you may face, and the defenses that may be available in your case.
Having a DUI conviction on your record can impact much more than your criminal record. For example, you may have future issues obtaining employment or being allowed to transport your children.
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