Posted by Norman Clature on September 08, 2005 at 05:15:55:
Most of you found your way to this forum some way, so I'm assuming you all know how to click a mouse and use a search engine. The entire Code of Alabama is online for your benefit, for those of you who care enough to actually know what in the heck you are talking about. I read with much amusement that whole thread about being checked by the Game Warden. There is so much misinformation and just plain nonsense there that I felt the need to post this message just to set a few things straight.
One, there is no Alabama state law against possessing alcoholic beverages in your boat, provided you are of the legal drinking age. The current open-container law applies to motor vehicles only. There are, however, plenty of dry counties in the state where it is illegal to possess any quantity of alcohol in your boat, Cherokee County (Weiss Lake) being one that comes immediately to mind. In those dry counties, the Game Wardens can, will and do enforce the alcohol-possession laws. For the guy who made the post about having his beer in his cooler for after the weigh-in, could it not have been left in your vehicle? Do you even know whether or not that stretch of water you were fishing fell within a dry county? Did the beer desire a boat ride that day? Maybe your Budweiser was lonely, who knows...you are lucky the Game Warden gave you the option of pouring them out rather than writing you an expensive ticket. Was he supposed to surmise through ESP that those three beers were the one and only ones you possessed, and that you had not consumed one, or three or thirty-three that day? After all, he had no prior knowledge of what a swell guy you were, or your drinking habits or what your voting affiliation might be. He had to make his mind up based on a short, face value stop. And I'm sure that those 10 minutes cost you that tournament victory that day. The other 7 hours and 50 minutes were time well-spent until he came along and fouled up your chances of winning by keeping you from catching the big one during that period.
Game Wardens are state law enforcement officers and can enforce the entire criminal code, right down to writing you a speeding ticket on the highway if they so chose. They do not have to have probable cause to check you or your boat when you are engaged in a hunting or fishing activity. And by the way...even with something as simple as writing you a ticket for fishing without a license...he does not have to accept your bond. He can actually take you down to the old county jail and have you post a bond there.
For those of you who care, Title 9 covers most game and fish laws, Title 33 covers boating laws and Title 32 Section 5A covers DUI and BUI.
I fish and boat using that old standby, The Golden Rule. I've also found it useful when dealing with any type of law enforcement officer. Also, I'm man enough to know when I'm in the wrong, take my lumps and hopefully never repeat that situation again.
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