Boozing boaters beware: new sobriety tests work on water
(WBIR - Norris Lake) A busy time of year on the lakes means a busy time for law enforcement patrolling for drunk boaters. A longtime challenge for officers is how to tell if someone is impaired while they are on a rocking boat.
Officers require probable cause to request a breathalyzer or blood test to measure someone's blood alcohol level. That's why impaired drivers on highways are asked to perform a variety of field sobriety tests, such as standing on one leg or walking in a straight line.
But those standing sobriety tests on a swaying boat are worthless. For years, officers had to haul boaters to shore to perform field sobriety tests to investigate cases of boating under the influence (BUI).
"It was just tough to have to stop in the middle of the lake and take the person to shore to administer tests," said Matt Cameron, public information officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). "With our mountainous areas around lakes, there might not be any suitable shore for several miles."