Boating While Intoxicated: The "Floating Field Sobriety Tests"-Part 2-The "Count From 25 to 1 Test"

Hello again. In today's article I will follow up on the the "afloat battery" of field sobriety tests used by police prior to "boating while intoxicated" arrests. In the first of these 6 segments I provided the details regarding the "finger to nose test". Today I will post some of the instructions and "possible indicators of impairment" as set forth in the Boating While Intoxicated manual used during law enforcement training regarding another "test": the "Count from 25 to 1 Test" found in the "Boating While Intoxicated" manual used by many marine law enforcement officers on lakes and ponds. This particular exercise is described at page 7-E-8 of the December 1997 version of the manual.

As you read this ask yourself again whether a simple video camera (or almost ANYTHING else) might be a better indicator of whether a driver's ability to operate a boat is impaired by alcohol.

Another consideration is this: ask yourself what happens if the boat operator does this exercise perfectly. Chances are he or she still gets arrested. For examples of operators who have passed this weird exercise but still been arrested, see my main webpage at:


The entire instructions, introduction, test considerations and "possible indicators of intoxication" fit neatly into one half a page of the manual (p. 7-E-8). Here they are:

Count from 25 to 1 Test

"Introduction to the Count from 25 to 1 test: This is a test for pronounciation and the ability to remember a simple part of everyday life."

NOTE: How big a role does counting backwards play in your "everyday life"? Do you find yourself absentmindedly counting backwards often? Do you and your family count backwards together at the family dinner table? Do you invite friends over for a group "backwards count"?

"Test Considerations: Persons with speech impediments or local or foreign accents may have trouble with correct pronounciation. Foreign numerals may have different pronounciations."

NOTE: How many foreign numerals do NOT have different pronounciations? AND, since this test is designed both to measure an operator's ability to remember the simple part of everyday life that is counting backwards AND to measure his pronounciation, what possible relevance does this test have for either people who have a speech impedimant or have an accent? The "test" also does not give any consideration to the hearing impaired boater.

"Instructions for the test: The standard instructions for the 25 to 1 Test are...
* Count backwards from 25 to 1.
* Do you understand?
* Begin the test.

These are the instructions for the "test". There is no objective scoring system. Do YOU beleive that counting backwards from 25 to 1 with blue lights flashing is "a simple part of everday life" like the manual says it is? Do you count backwards everyday in your life?

Now, on to "scoring" the "test":

"Possible indicators of intoxication: Below is a list of possible indicators of intoxication.

* Numbers missed.
* Numbers repeated.
* Hesitation.
* Refused test.

There is no point scoring system, grading scale, or scorecard for this subjective exercise. It is entirely up to the officer on a lake or pond whether to arrest some one after this ritual.

This is but one of the 6 part "floating battery" of tests performed on citizens unfortunate enough to be stopped for "random", "routine" or "safety" stops.

In my next post I will examine another of these odd "tests" that are performed immediately prior to "boating while intoxicated" arrests.

Have a safe weekend,

Mark Stevens




No comments:

Post a Comment