Dangers of Drinking and Boating in Arizona

Many people are aware of Arizona’s “Drink and Drive, Face the Max” campaign against drinking and driving as seen in television advertisements and billboards throughout the state. However, considerably fewer people understand that these same ramifications and penalties for DUIs also apply in large part to drinking and operating a boat, jet-ski or other watercraft on the lakes, rivers, and waterways in our great state. In other words, if you are caught driving a boat while intoxicated (known as an “OUI”) in Arizona, you can expect the same harsh penalties as you would for a DUI involving drinking and driving in a car. This time of year, when the weather starts to warm up, people love to spend time out on lake or river with family and friends and have a good time, the realization that you can face a DUI out on the water can be a very sudden and extremely unpleasant surprise.

Although most county sheriff’s departments, including here in Maricopa County, have their own specialized divisions to patrol these waterways, you need to also be aware that Arizona Game and Fish Department wardens are licensed Arizona peace officers as well and have the same ability to cite, arrest, and investigate criminal actions such as OUI as any other police officers. Being stopped for OUI has its own unique factors and challenges. You may still be asked to complete field sobriety tests as you would in a regular DUI stop, but being called upon to demonstrate your balance and coordination skills on a rolling boat imposes significant issues and can raise possible defenses in your case. Depending on the remoteness of the location, you can also imagine that there might be some problems with procedure for the testing of your breath or blood for the presence of alcohol or drugs – problems that an attorney with experience in defending OUI cases would be able to spot and use in to help you in your case.

If you have been arrested for a DUI or OUI charge, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 994-8824 for a consultation with one of our experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys.