Hall State Court found a defendant guilty of operating a moving vessel under the influence of alcohol (boating under the influence or BUI) and three counts of endangering a child by operating a moving vessel under the influence of alcohol. The defendant filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence of the field sobriety tests, but the trial court denied him.
A Georgia Department of Natural Resources officer stopped the defendant to inform him that his boat’s navigation lights were not visible to other watercraft and noticed that the defendant had been drinking. The officer asked him to board his boat so that he could conduct some sobriety tests, one of which was an alco-sensor test that yielded a positive result for intoxication. The officer arrested him and read the implied consent law, but the defendant declined to take the breath test.
The defendant’s Motion to Suppress was predicated upon his belief that he was in custody during the initial sobriety tests and was not informed of his Miranda rights. Georgia’s Court of Appeals disagreed with his assessment, noting that an officer may detain a person temporarily without invoking Miranda protection. The Court determined that the officer did not place the defendant in handcuffs or tell him that he was under arrest during the initial tests. The Court supported the trial court’s convictions and the denial of the defendant’s Motion to Suppress.