The Law Offices of John Phebus

Arizona bill would attach fine to waterway breath test refusals

A lot of drunk driving charges in Arizona are based on breath tests that help determine the blood alcohol content in a suspect. The driver is asked to blow into a system that takes a sample of the individual’s breath. The sample is then run through the machine, measuring the alcohol by way of a chemical reaction.

Breath tests are not always reliable despite the fact that they use science to determine the BAC, unlike field sobriety tests that measure symptoms of impairment. The machines must be properly stored, calibrated prior to use and administered by an officer. Machine malfunction, human error and even outside factors could give a false reading. Yet, refusal to submit to these tests could result in the loss of a driver’s license.

What if driving isn’t contingent on a driver’s license?

The readers of our Phoenix DUI/DWI law blog may be saying “huh?” We aren’t talking about land vehicles; we are talking about recreational boats. A driver’s license isn’t required for adult boaters, so revoking or suspending a driver’s license isn’t a viable consequence for refusing to give a sample.

Lawmakers are hoping to change all that with a new piece of legislation that would make significant changes to the traffic laws on Arizona waterways. One of these changes includes attaching a $750 civil penalty for s boater who refuses to submit to a breath, blood or urine test.

Other changes would include a requirement that a boater involved in an accident remain at the scene to help those who may have been injured and exchange information with other boaters involved. Police would also be required to write up accident reports.

More significant changes propose making it a class three misdemeanor for leaving the scene of a collision involving property damage and a class six felony for leaving the scene of a collision involving serious injury or death.

Source: Today’s News-Herald, “Borrelli, Goodale propose boat bill,” Kelsey Ringuette, Feb. 6, 2014

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