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Do you have to agree to a breath or blood test while boating?

If a law enforcement officer pulls you over for suspicion of drinking and driving on a public roadway, the law states that you must consent to a breath or blood test if he or she requests one. However, you may wonder if the same holds true during boating stops.

While Arizona’s boating laws do differ slightly from driving laws, the sections regarding DUIs and BUIs are very similar. Before you launch for a day of fun in the sun, it is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities. Arizona Statute 5-395.03 explains your responsibilities as they pertain to breath and blood tests for BUIs, as well as the consequences for refusing an officer.

Implied consent

Arizona, like every other state in the union, has what lawmakers refer to as “implied consent” laws. Per these laws, individuals who operate or possess control of motorized vehicles give consent to tests of the breath, blood, urine or other bodily substance for the purposes of determining their blood alcohol or drug concentration if they are under suspicion of violating relevant DUI laws. As a popular boating destination, Arizona extends its implied consent laws to the waterways.

Per the legal code, a law enforcement agent may use his or her discretion to administer tests so long as he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that a person operating or in control of a motorized watercraft is under the influence of drugs or an intoxicating liquor. An agent may also request tests of a boating passenger who is under 21 years of age and who appears intoxicated.

Consequences for refusing a test

If you refuse to submit to and successfully complete any tests an officer requests of you, you may be subject to a civil penalty of $750. You will also have to pay $500, which the state treasurer will put toward the Prison Construction and Operations Fund. If the state finds you guilty of boating under the influence despite your having refused a test or tests, the court will oppose an additional $500 fine, which the state treasurer will deposit into the Law Enforcement and Boating Safety Fund.

A law enforcement officer cannot force you to submit to a breath, blood, urine or bodily substance test. However, if the officer possesses a search warrant for the purposes of obtaining evidence of your intoxication, you do not have any legal right to refuse.