FORT MYERS, Fla. - The U.S. Coast Guard says alcohol is the top contributing factor in deadly boating accidents. Now, there's a new way to test a boater's sobriety without ever leaving the water. Officers say the on-board exercises are saving time and money.
"Clap your hands three times and return your hands to the memorized position," said FWC Officer James Suttles.
It looks like a game, but for intoxicated boaters who miss the mark, the sitting sobriety test could mean a trip to jail.
"Before these new exercises came out it took on average of about 5 hours by the time you stopped the vessel and finished the report in jail. With these new exercises it significantly diminishes that time to about 2 hours," said Lt. Robby Creech with FWC.
The old exercises required a boater to balance and stand but that proved tricky if the sober subject had a bad case of "sea legs." Florida Fish and Wildlife officers took Wink News along as they performed safety checks on nearby boats and say they are always watching for signs of intoxication.
"By me asking you for your life jacket, your registration, you can actually evaluate how someone does those. a reasonable person who hasn't been impaired are able to do these things," said Lt. Creech.
So how does this compare to a Breathalyzer test? According to the FWC, if people miss the clues, there is a 91% positive chance they have a blood alcohol level of point 0.08 or higher.
FWC Officers say over the Labor Day weekend, there were three alcohol-related deaths in the Tampa and Sarasota areas.