Boating Under the Influence: The Role of Field Sobriety Tests in Arizona's Boating DUI Checkpoints

Feature Article: Exploring the Use of Field Sobriety Tests in Boating DUIs

Every summer, millions of Americans take to the waterways for recreational boating activities. While many of these boaters do so responsibly, there are always a few who choose to operate their vessels under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In an effort to combat boating DUIs, law enforcement agencies across the country have implemented boating DUI checkpoints and use field sobriety tests to determine if a boater is operating their vessel while impaired. In this feature article, we will explore the use of field sobriety tests in boating DUIs, the guidelines that ensure they are conducted fairly, and the consequences of being found guilty of a boating DUI.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are standardized tests that law enforcement officers use to determine if a driver or boater is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are three main types of field sobriety tests that are used for boating DUIs:

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: A boater will be asked to follow an object, such as a flashlight or pen, with their eyes. The officer will be looking for any involuntary jerking of the eyes, which can be an indication of impairment.
  2. Walk and Turn Test: A boater will be asked to take nine steps, heel to toe, in a straight line, turn on one foot, and return in the same manner. The officer will be looking for any signs of imbalance or incorrect steps.
  3. One Leg Stand Test: A boater will be asked to stand on one leg and count out loud for 30 seconds. The officer will be looking for any signs of imbalance or swaying.

How Are Field Sobriety Tests Used in Boating DUIs?

In Arizona, law enforcement agencies have the authority to set up boating DUI checkpoints, similar to roadside sobriety checkpoints. These checkpoints are designed to systematically check boaters for signs of intoxication and are legally upheld under guidelines that ensure they are conducted fairly. At these checkpoints, officers will typically look for visible signs of impairment, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or trouble with balance. If the officer suspects that a boater is under the influence, they will ask the individual to perform field sobriety tests.

What Are the Consequences of Failing a Field Sobriety Test While Boating?

Just like with driving under the influence, being found guilty of boating under the influence can come with serious consequences. The consequences of a boating DUI can include fines, jail time, loss of boating privileges, and increased insurance rates. In some cases, a boating DUI can even result in the loss of driving privileges if the individual's driver's license is suspended as a result of the conviction.

How Can Boaters Avoid Failing Field Sobriety Tests?

The easiest way to avoid failing a field sobriety test while boating is to simply refrain from boating under the influence. Boaters should never operate a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is also important to remember that field sobriety tests are designed to be difficult, even for individuals who are not impaired. If a boater is asked to perform field sobriety tests, they should follow the officer's instructions carefully and to the best of their ability. If the boater does not feel that they can perform the test, they can refuse, but the consequences of refusing can include being arrested and charged with a boating DUI.

Conclusion

Field sobriety tests are an important tool that law enforcement officers use to combat boating DUIs. Boaters should always remember to refrain from operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to avoid failing a field sobriety test. If you are facing boating DUI charges, it is important to seek legal representation from an experienced boating DUI attorney.

Field Sobriety Tests Boating DUI