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What Is A Float Test?


If you boat in Texas, you may have heard of float tests, sobriety exercises to determine if a person is boating while under the influence or not. Float tests are commonly used by law enforcement but they were not designed by scientists and there are situations in which the results can be disputed.

Marine sobriety tests were created by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). This happened because it was determined that field sobriety tests administered on land are not as reliable in determining if a boat operator has been drinking. Float tests are a tool to help law enforcement to make sobriety determinations and keep waterways safe. But unlawful arrests have occurred. If you were arrested for a BWI, connect with a Houston DWI lawyer to understand your rights.

Differences Between DWIs and BWIs

When you are in a boat in Texas, you are legally allowed to consume alcohol when enjoying open waters. This is untrue for individuals in a car. For example, you can have an open container of alcohol in a boat if you are the boat operator or a passenger. That said, if you are a boat operator your consumption of alcohol has to be within legal limits. You will be charged with intoxication if you are found to have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, or if you no longer have normal use of your faculties, mental or physical. It is possible for both boat operators or passengers to be charged with public intoxication.

Float tests can be performed in a variety of circumstances. Officers maintaining the safety of a marina could watch to see boats coming in and stop any watercraft they feel is in need of a safety check. A check could include being sure that safety features are in place, such as the correct number of life jackets are on board, and determining if anyone on the boat is under the influence.

While it is legal to have alcohol on your boat during a safety check, if an officer suspects the operator or passengers have ingested high amounts, field sobriety tests or float tests could follow.

Balance and Lower Body Temperatures

Drinking alcohol and operating a car or a boat carries risks, but some of the dangers differ. When a person drinks too much alcohol while on a boat, their balance is impacted and their body temperature is affected. Balance on a boat can be difficult when a person is sober, but if they are drunk and fall off the boat, their lower body temperature after drinking could result in physical risks, such as hypothermia and drowning.

Were you arrested for a Texas BWI after a law enforcement officer informed you that you failed a float test? Connect with an experienced legal team to explore your options. Float tests are not always reliable at determining if a boater is sober or not, a dismissal may be possible. Reach out to the legal team at Ayson Law Firm and discuss the details of your unique situation with a skilled attorney. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Houston criminal defense lawyer.

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