Boating While Intoxicated ("BWI") Part 4 The Alphabet Test: The First Event of the Pond Olympics


This series of blog-posts has been addressing the unusual "Pond Olympics" known as "Afloat Field Sobriety Tests", which are performed by boaters immediately prior to their arrest for "boating while intoxicated" or "boating under the influence". As you will see here and in my prior posts on this topic, these "tests" usually consist of all or part of the following 6-part medley of exercises:

1. The "alphabet test".

2. The "25 to 1 Count"

3. The "Finger Count"

4. The "Palm Pat"

5. The "Finger to Nose"

6. The "Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus/Vertical Gaze Nystagmus" test

The first five have no scoring system. The sixth has a system of "points" viewed through jaundiced eyes by most people who are not directly interested in either arresting or convicting people of DWI or BWI. So far, in this 6 part series, I have reviewed the exercises called the "Finger to Nose Test", the "Count 25 to 1 Test", and the really weird "palm pat test".

Today's topic is an old law enforcement favorite: the alphabet test. If you haven't been arrested or stopped in a roadblock recently (the latter becoming less and less likely due to the alarming frequency of roadblocks on our streets due to federal funding to erect them), you probably haven't recited your ABCs in a good while. Do you think your ability to say the alphabet without singing it has anything to do with your ability to drive a boat? The police do, and whether you do it right or not you're probably going to be arrested once you're asked to "say the alphabet without singing it".

There is no objective scoring system; it's completely up to the cop whether you are arrested. 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. Given the political pressure to jack up the number of Driving While Intoxicated ("DWI") and Boating While Intoxicated ("BWI") arrests, how many people are let go after these tests, which have no scoring system? Not many!

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. I will be focusing on the remaining two exercises in coming posts.

Have a safe weekend, and arm yourself with the knowledge of your rights as to whether you HAVE to play a starring role in the "Pond Olympics" BEFORE you are asked to do them. Check with a lawyer in your state who defends people accused of driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), operating under the influence (OUI) , boating while intoxicated (BWI) and boating under the influence (BUI).

If you are in New Hampshire and have questions regarding DWI, DUI, OUI, or boating while intoxicated please feel free to call me at 603-893-0074.

All the best,

Mark Stevens
5 Manor Parkway
Salem, NH 03079




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