Meeting the Technical Challenges of Enforcing Boating Under the Influence Laws

While national boating accident statistics readily identify the abuse of alcoholic beverages as a contributing factor in a large number of our nation's boating accidents, the challenges of formulating and implementing effective methods of reducing the abuse of alcoholic beverages on our nation's waterways are often overwhelming. One challenge hinges on the fact that the consumption of alcoholic beverages while boating meets with both legal and societal approval. Another is due primarily to our society's perception of what the stereotypical “drunk” person looks, smells, and acts like. The final issue to be discussed, and perhaps the most difficult to overcome from any level of law enforcement, is that associated with the technical aspects of recognizing potential suspects, building a case primarily with non-tangible evidence, and being prepared to effect an arrest based solely on “probable cause” rather that “beyond a reasonable doubt.” When these difficulties are combined with the need to prepare in-depth arrest reports and the likelihood of substantial scrutiny in the courtroom, it becomes easy for enforcement officers to develop routines that minimize their effectiveness at enforcing the boating under the influence laws in other than the most severe cases. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) enforcement challenges can be overcome when law enforcement managers recognize that impaired boaters are a problem, understand the technical hurdles associated with identifying and arresting impaired suspects, develop a common sense philosophy that motivates their officers to make the cases, and implement highly-effective boating under the influence training courses for their law enforcement officers.

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