Officials now using seated battery to test impaired driving

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Wildlife officers are doing all they can to keep you safe on the water this summer. They even want to make things easier for you.

Officers now have a way to test to see if you’re drunk on a boat without you standing up or leaving the vessel.

Seated sobriety is a test officers use on the water. It’s so effective that law enforcement officers on land are using the same thing.

“It’s another tool they can have in their toolbox,” said Sergeant William Cain, a wildlife officer, who’s talking about seated battery, a way for wildlife officers to see if you’re impaired without you having you to stand up, or leave the boat.

Maritime law enforcement officers adopted the process in 2010. Now, it’s catching on with officers on land.

“There’s just times and place where you can’t do the walk and turn and one-leg stand. That’s the reason they’re coming to us for additional training,” said Cain.

We see normal standing sobriety tests all the time. Officers have civilians get out of the car and perform a series of movements. For both officers on the water and back at the shore, normal standing tests can be a hassle.

“We’d have to place you on our boat carry you to shore, find a suitable location to perform the standing battery and then we make the decision to place you under arrest or not,” Cain said.

Trooper Doug Coley said it’s not ideal to have people leave their vehicles, but rather he believes having more than one way to do things is always a plus, “You may be able to keep your eyes on the violator vehicle, as well as the person that you’re doing the testing on.”

If officers suspect you’re driving, or boating, while impaired and they want to use seated battery, they’ll ask you to perform four tests. Those include horizontal gaze, finger-to-nose, and palm-and-hand coordination.

Sergeant Cain said if something isn’t safe to do in a car, it’s probably not safe to do on a boat.

Almost 1,000 officers in the East are trained to perform the seated sobriety test.

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