Alaskan Police Arrest Man For DUI — For Floating Down River On Raft

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?

Source: Newsminer

31 thoughts on “Alaskan Police Arrest Man For DUI — For Floating Down River On Raft”

  1. Meanwhile….they probably missed two rapes, a breaking and entering, an armed robbery and…heaven forbid…someone driving 57 in a 55 mph zone.

    “Protect and Serve” my ass!

  2. The Spring Breakers in San Diego discovered a loophole in the new “No Drinking On The Beach” law a few years back. They made makeshift rafts and floated in the tranquil bay consuming large quantities of adult beverages and medical cannabis. It took the City Council a couple years to close that loophole. “Kids say and do the darndest things”[Art Linkletter].

  3. Maybe he was minding his own business walking home with flask in hand, then as he was on the bridge over the river he stumbled, fell over the railing ….and ………..
    …………… Fell into the liferaft.

    The skipper of the Costa Concordia has claimed he abandoned ship after he ‘fell into a lifeboat’.

    How’s that working for the skipper ?

  4. That BAC level is extreme to say the least. The highest BAC level on a case I worked was a .315 on a DUI fatality case I investigated. (only one person involved, the driver) the next was a .308 and these were the only .3+ cases I had out of probably 400 or so.

    I would opin there is probable cause to charge based on the elements of the crime. The statute does not exclude inflatable rafts as watercraft. I would use discretion on an inner-tube type. But if this raft was capable of carrying more than one passenger I would certainly qualify it.

    That it has no self contained means of power, not relevant in my book but one commenter mentions the fact of whether or not it was a registered boat might be used as a basis for a suppression hearing. As for the lack of power glider aircraft have no power source so I would not exclude a glider from the aircraft definition based on power source. Dredd’s copy & paste of the definitions adds clairity here.

  5. I think the raft would be a watercraft and the DUI would be legally proper. Now, I think the officers could have used some discretion and taken him off the raft and held it until he was sober.

  6. I witnessed a group of 15 year-old high school boys on the sidewalk arrested for DUI … some were on bicycles, two were on foot-powered scooters, one was in a wagon being pulled by another, and one particularly creatives dude was riding on the back of his buddy who was walking. All were charged through Juvenile Court and all did a summer of community service work plus classroom time. None of the parents hired a lawyer or objected to the charges/convictions/punishments.

  7. FWI, floating while intoxicated, is what was really happening.

    “Rollin, rollin, rollin on a river.”

    AS 05.25.100:

    (2) “boat” means watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, except for

    (A) a ship’s lifeboat;

    (B) a seaplane;

    (C) an inspected passenger vessel; and

    (D) a single air mattress, single inner tube, or other water toy;

    AS 28.35.030:

    (3) “operate a watercraft” 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;

    This is the kind of vague language that allows prosecutors or police to go either way.

  8. Since the guys not on the roadway…..a blow up raft is not a registered vehicle…..this is what the Alaskan Statutes call a vehicle…..

    (28) “vehicle” means a device in, upon, or by which a person or property may be transported or drawn upon or immediately over a highway or vehicular way or area; “vehicle” does not include
    (A) devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks;
    (B) mobile homes;

  9. The term inflatable raft leaves me wanting a more complete description. I would think that a “watercraft” would be limited to a vessel that requires registration with the state DNR or documented by the USGS. It appears that the authorities are overreaching. However, as a boater on Lake Erie I am very much in favor of zero tolerance on DUI by the “captain” and anyone in control of a watercraft. It only takes one time of having your sailboat be buzzed by a master of the universe cigarette boat to learn the procedure of calling the Coast Guard or marine police. Now if they let us carry heat-seeking missles. . . .

    OS, here in Amish country there have been DUI arrests of buggy drivers and at least one instance of drag racing.

  10. This is absurd. I’m for DUI laws as they protect others from the negligence of those who UI. But going down the road of using them to protect people solely from themselves will take us into a completely different realm of govt intrusion.

    You can hurt yourself being drunk in your house as much or more than you could on a floating device. So are we going to take DUI into that arena?

    Good god I hope not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it creep ever closer either.

  11. I have read of horse riders being charged with DUI. The rider was drunk, not the horse. Since he was in a conveyance, that could be defined as a “watercraft.” The DUI sounds legitimate. I don’t think DUI laws require the vehicle have some means of propulsion. Theoretically, he could have had a paddle……nah, I think I will leave that one alone.

  12. Wow, if that were the law in Maine [the Saco River to be exact] the cops could arrest and charge everyone on the river after 1000 AM every weekend day. Every rafter, canoer, kayaker, tuber, and floater. BTW does swimming drunk constitute operating a watercraft???

  13. I’m not sure how the verb “operate” is legally defined in AK, but I can’t see how a device with no means of navigation or propulsion is “operated.” And if he was properly wearing a PFD then realistically his chances of drowning are no worse than if he was sober. I’m really curious, though, how they pulled him over on the river? Was the cop sitting in a kayak hiding in some shrubbery off to the side and flipped on the red-and-blues after Modene floated past him?

  14. Maybe they used the only means possible to get the man off the water and keep him off so they wouldn’t have to pull his body out later.

  15. As long as he wasnt paddling, I would argue that he was not operating or navigating and instead was only subject to the whims of the current.

  16. I think the law needs to be changed to apply only to motorized water craft. One can hardly do much damage to others or oneself in a rubber raft.

  17. I would like to see how or what they designate a vehicle….this seems a stretch of the imagination on many levels…..How many floaters would be considered drunk…..I guess next they could arrest you at an apartment pool for public intoxication…..

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