Using Field Sobriety Tests for Boating DUIs: Guidelines and Checkpoints in Arizona

Feature Article: Understanding Field Sobriety Tests in Boating DUI


Spending a day out on the water is a pleasant and relaxing experience. However, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you decide to operate a boat while intoxicated. The law enforcement authorities have the power to set up boating DUI checkpoints to prevent drunk driving and ensure boaters' safety. In this feature article, we will explore field sobriety tests used in boating DUI incidents, their purpose, and how they are conducted.

What are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are commonly used by law enforcement authorities to determine whether drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, these tests are not limited to automobiles but also applied to boats. Field sobriety tests involve a series of physical and cognitive tasks that assess a person's ability to function normally. The tests used during boating DUI investigations are designed to test various motor and cognitive skills to determine if someone is impaired.

The Purpose of Field Sobriety Tests in Boating DUI

The primary objective of conducting field sobriety tests during boating DUI investigations is to establish probable cause for an arrest. The tests provide tangible evidence that can support an officer's suspicion of drunk driving. If an officer has reasonable cause to suspect that a boater is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will ask the boater to perform a series of physical and cognitive tasks. The boater's responses will help the officer determine whether intoxication is present.

The Different Types of Field Sobriety Tests Used in Boating DUI

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides guidelines on the three standardized field sobriety tests that are typically used to determine whether drivers are impaired. These tests are:

1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test checks a person's eye movements as they track a moving object, such as a pen or finger. During this test, an officer will look for involuntary jerking of the eye, which can occur due to an inner ear disturbance or the use of alcohol.

2. Walk-and-Turn Test

The walk-and-turn test requires a boater to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn on one foot, and return to the starting position. The officer will observe the boater's ability to follow instructions and maintain balance during the test.

3. One-Leg Stand Test

The one-leg stand test requires a boater to stand on one leg while raising the other leg to a certain height. During the test, the officer will look for a lack of balance, swaying, or the use of arms to maintain stability.

The Accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are not entirely accurate and can produce false results. Many factors can influence a person's performance during the test, such as age, medical conditions, physical fitness, and nervousness. It is crucial to note that these tests are not foolproof, and a qualified DUI lawyer can contest their validity in court.

What Happens if You Fail a Field Sobriety Test?

If you fail a field sobriety test, you may be placed under arrest for Boating Under the Influence (BUI). The results of these tests can be used to prosecute you in court, and being convicted of BUI can result in hefty fines, a suspended boating license, and possible jail time. It is essential to contact a qualified DUI attorney as soon as possible to help protect your legal rights.

The Importance of Safe Boating Practices

Boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense that endangers everyone on the waterway. It is essential to practice safe boating habits to ensure the safety of all those enjoying the water. Boaters should avoid alcohol consumption while on the water and designate a sober operator or arrange transportation after drinking.


Boating DUI incidents can lead to tragic accidents that result in injury or loss of life. Field sobriety tests are an essential tool for law enforcement authorities to combat drunk driving on the water and keep us all safe. If you are facing a boating DUI charge, contact a qualified DUI attorney to help protect your legal rights. Field Sobriety Tests in Boating DUI