New Law Gives Iowa Boaters More Rights

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SAYLORVILLE, Iowa  --  The way law enforcement handles boating under the influence cases in Iowa has now changed.

The change stems from a boating under the influence case back in 2013, in which the suspect says Iowa's boating law allowing a breath test without a warrant violates his rights.

"You just constantly have to be aware of your surroundings, because yeah, they come out of nowhere, there's no street corners," said Iowa resident Tony Vanderzwaag.

That's exactly what Polk County Water Patrol is watching for: speeding and drunk driving. Under the new law, anyone pulled over now has the right to deny a breath test without fear of being charged a $500 penalty.

Saylorville Lake-goer Emilio Burgos agrees with the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision.

"The $500, let the court decide it. I don’t think you should have to pay that if you still have to pay money to the court system," he said.

But not everyone agrees.

“You have to make a statement somehow, teach them a lesson," said Vanderzwaag.

Officers say the new law adds more steps to the process, which takes away from patrolling out on the water.

"Officers are now required to go through additional steps, which could mean procuring a search warrant signed by a judge to retrieve that blood, breath, or urine sample post-arrest," said Iowa Department of Natural Resources Officer Matt Bruner.

It could also cost up to $1,000 and two days in jail.

"The criminal penalty for boating under the influence of alcohol is still intact. It’s still a serious misdemeanor for your first offense, aggravated for a second offense, and up to a felony if it's a third or subsequent offense, a personal injury, or even a fatality," said Bruner.

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