Northeastern North Carolina is a waterman’s paradise. From the North River, to the Currituck Sound, to the Albemarle Sound, to the Pamilico Sound, to the Pasquotank River, to the Perquimans River, to the Chowan River, to the Atlantic Ocean via Oregon Inlet or out of Hatteras, there are miles and miles of water fun to enjoy. However, there are numerous boating and water laws that you must obey, including laws involving alcohol. Violations of these laws can result in criminal charges if you are convicted of a DWI while boating in North Carolina.
Law Enforcement and Alcohol Consumption While Boating in North Carolina
While it is perfectly legal for you and your passengers to consume alcohol on the boat, even while it is in operation, it is illegal to operate a boat while impaired. Nautical law enforcement officers, such as game wardens, Marine Fisheries officer, the U.S. Coast Guard and federal wildlife officers, are all authorized to stop and board vessels on the water, and other law enforcement officers are authorized to stop you at the boat ramp and parking lots.
Boating DWI Tests Used in North Carolina
All of those law enforcement officers are allowed to administer Portable Breath Tests (PBTs) and field sobriety tests. Whether the results of those tests can be used against you depends on whether the officer is specifically trained and certified to administer the specific tests. It is my advice in all cases, whether it be a BWI or a DWI, that people refuse to take all field sobriety tests and refuse to take any PBT test.
In addition, a chemical analysis test (i.e., Intoxilyzer test) at the station is also specifically authorized for BWI cases. However, unlike in DWI (driving) cases, the results of that test, or your refusal to take that test, does not affect your driver’s license. Therefore, since there is no penalty or punishment for refusing to take the breath test in a BWI case, it is my advise that you always refuse any breath test if you are being investigated for a BWI.