William Modene, 32, has reason to be confused. Modene was floating down Chena River when he was pulled over by Alaskan State Troopers on suspicion of Driving Under The Influence (DUI). He was seen drinking alcoholic drinks — not a practice unknown to many rivers. He blew a 0.313 (four times the legal limit) and was charged even though his vehicle was an inflatable raft.
The state law applies not just to motor vehicles and airplanes but “water craft.”
At 0.313, Modene’s breath-alcohol content was almost four times the legal limit for operating a vehicle, 0.08.
Modene was arrested without incident and was cooperative with troopers, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
Modene posted $2,500 bail on Monday, according to the Alaska court system website.
Here is the state law:
AS 28.35.030. Operating a Vehicle, Aircraft or Watercraft While Under the Influence of An Alcoholic Beverage, Inhalant, or Controlled Substance.
(a) A person commits the crime of driving while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, inhalant, or controlled substance if the person operates or drives a motor vehicle or operates an aircraft or a watercraft
(1) while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, intoxicating liquor, inhalant, or any controlled substance, singly or in combination; or
(2) and if, as determined by a chemical test taken within four hours after the alleged operating or driving, there is 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the person’s blood or 80 milligrams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or if there is 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of the person’s breath.
A water craft is defined as a means to “navigate a vessel used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water for recreational or commercial purposes on all waters, fresh or salt, inland or coastal, inside the territorial limits or under the jurisdiction of the state.”
That is so broad that an inner tube on a river would suffice for a DUI. Ultimately, the police can argue that DUI laws are not designed to simply protect third parties but drivers. In this case, a rafter who is drunk could drown on the river. However, I find this a bit of a stretch for DUI laws. What do you think?