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Tests used to determine boater intoxication

Tests used to determine boater intoxication

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Tests used to determine boater intoxication

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Boating is a relaxing activity enjoyed by many Alabama families when the weather is warm and cooperative. The U.S. Coast Guard reported over 610 deaths and nearly 2,700 injuries caused by boating accidents nationwide in 2014. The fatality rate soared more than 10 percent in a year’s time.

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Boat Sobriety Tests

Speeding, inattentiveness, inexperience and operator failure to observe obstacles or traffic were among the top reasons that boating collisions occurred. Alcohol use was present in more than one in five fatal boat accidents. In 2014, alcohol was linked to 277 boating crashes and 108 deaths.

Boating under the influence is no safer than driving while intoxicated. The legal consequences can be severe whether the operator is a drunk driver or an intoxicated boater: criminal charges, fines, and license suspensions. In both instances, injured victims and families have a right to file civil lawsuits to recover compensation for harm caused by negligence or recklessness.

Field sobriety tests are similar for drivers and boat operators. However, a boater may undergo a series of tests on the water as well as on shore. Ashore tests are identical to those that vehicle operators take. However, boaters are given time to adapt to land before ashore tests are conducted.

On-the-water tests, known as afloat tests, differ slightly from land-based field sobriety tests. The combined afloat and ashore tests help investigators determine whether a boater is intoxicated. Additional chemical tests of the operator’s breath, blood or urine can support boating under the influence suspicions.

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Boater Intoxication

Federal officials have standardized alcohol tests administered to drivers and boaters on land. A three-year U.S. Coast Guard-funded study completed in 2011 sought to standardize afloat tests to avoid challenges to their validity.

Alcohol use diminishes the ability of motor vehicle operators to judge and respond. A failure to care for others’ safety can be used as evidence in legal claims brought by Clay Massey & Associates PC on behalf of injured parties.

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