DUI's on Gates of Ladore - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-21-2018   #1
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 10
DUI's on Gates of Ladore

Just got off a trip on the Ladore which included my worst experience with a park ranger and just wanted to give folks a heads up. To put this in perspective the majority of the boatman were experienced class 5 boaters and i used to be the river ranger for the gunnison gorge and am not anti cop. We were loading a fair bit of alcohol for a five day float, more than we could drink because we were going straight from the take out to a wedding and in general just bought more than we needed because we had room... Anyway the ranger told us that she sent a ranger into the canyon to issue DUI's to the last group that put on with a lot of alcohol; five DUI's were issued to that group for rowing intoxicated. I asked if the people were belligerent and she said they had been drinking and because we had alcohol she was going to send someone after us in the canyon. We follow all of the rules and are a very LNT group, it sucked to go into the wilderness with the feeling that someone is coming to get you-not the experience anyone is after on this type of trip. I am an active advocate for protecting these places and even these rangers jobs with my money and my time. HIDE YOUR BOOZE AT THIS PUT IN AND AVOID THESE RANGERS!!!! you will be profiled and threatened

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Old 09-21-2018   #2
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
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Sounds like a solution in search of a problem.
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Old 09-21-2018   #3
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Paul the Kayaker's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Did you talk to the 5 people that were ticketed? Were they breathalyzed? Were they arrested? Just wondering if there are most specifics on this, seems ridiculous that the rangers would go through this trouble because they packed a few extra beers at the put in. Were they doing anything else illegal to draw attention to them like shooting guns, or flaunting drugs, or out of control drunk?

Really sucks this is what the rangers are spending their time doing, but something had to have started this response from them, maybe the long summer out there, isolated is messing took its toll.
P the K
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Old 09-21-2018   #4
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Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 205
That is ridiculous, I don't know why the folks at Dinosaur have to be such hard asses about everything. It seems like the key would be not to flaunt your booze at the put in as these rangers have an over critical eye. With the upcoming fee changes and possible BUIs a trip down Dino could be getting really expensive. For those interested I pasted in the CO state law below.

Colorado State Law

"While it is not illegal to have alcohol on a boat, driving or boating under the influence (BUI) is prohibited. Colorado takes these offenses extremely seriously and a conviction for BUI is punishable by up to a year in prison, suspension of boating privileges, up to $1000 in fines, and community service. There have been recent changes to the law and the legal limit for a boat operators blood alcohol content (BAC) was lowered in 2008 by the state legislature from .10% to .08%.
Although a BUI charge is so named for “boating” while intoxicated, before you and your friends get out a Jet Ski or canoe, know that it is not just boats that you are restricted from operating while under the influence. While this was not always the case, under current Colorado BUI laws, any vessel or watercraft which is physically controlled by a person under the influence of alcohol can result in BUI charges. For example, if you are operating a non-motorized canoe with a BAC of .12%, you can be hit with a charge for boating under the influence.
BUI laws are commonly compared to charges for driving under the influence (DUI), and while the offenses have similarities, they are far from identical. In Colorado, unlike other parts of the country, boats are not included in the state definition of a motor vehicle. This means that charges for BUI are (1) not handled by the DMV and (2) are not influenced by DUI charges. Similarly, the points accumulated on your license will not be affected by potential charges for BUI."
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Old 09-21-2018   #5
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 10
I don't have any other info on the other folks but would love to hear their story. We were respectful and not drunk, but were not hiding anything-also she clarified that she issued DUI's not BUI's because ore boats are mechanical like a bicycle (apparently our kayaks and alpackas were fine to get drunk in). Drink a beer on the river-lose your license- lose your job...
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Old 09-21-2018   #6
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 89
Yeah, that's a crock. She was trying to scare you into not being a shit show. Tell me how after you receive your citation. Do they they evac you from the river to put you process you for your eventual visit with a judge (DUI process)? They cannot release you after issuing a DUI, law enforcement has decided you are a danger to yourself and others. BUI's are designed for motorized lake dwelling craft. Convince me that a raft is more mechanized than a Bayliner. You also are NOT on a road, no federal judge would uphold that charge, also please provide a case where it worked. 100% bullshit.

Was she an armed ranger, supervisor, or volunteer with a badge? When we did Gates this year we were told the inspecting ranger liked to sleep in. We didn't have an inspection. Dinosaur put-in/take-out rangers are usually volunteers. Their armed law enforcement is the only type that can issue a DUI (they've got a gun). If not, I would complain to Dinosaur that they have employees going way past their pay grade and trying to intimidate patrons. 99% of federal park staff cannot write a citation, much less test you for a DUI. Not to say it hasn't or couldn't happen, but I wouldn't plan on it being a "thing". Unless there were deaths associated with intoxicated boaters I don't see them putting resources into it.

I have 0 beef with those working our federal lands. Last year's Gates trip had an AWESOME ranger (volunteer) who gave us HIS bug spray because he wasn't sure if we had enough. He was great and his donation saved us in early June. It sounds like you interacted with someone who doesn't want people to be successful in her version of a river experience. Sounds like someone who shouldn't be in that position. I know you were at her mercy to get on the river, glad you persevered.
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Old 09-21-2018   #7
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 126
I cant wait to shotgun beers at the put in!
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Old 09-22-2018   #8
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Originally Posted by CASE View Post
I don't have any other info on the other folks but would love to hear their story. We were respectful and not drunk, but were not hiding anything-also she clarified that she issued DUI's not BUI's because ore boats are mechanical like a bicycle (apparently our kayaks and alpackas were fine to get drunk in). Drink a beer on the river-lose your license- lose your job...
She's either lying or those tickets are gonna be dismissed swiftly (probably lying). A DUI can only be issued for operation of a motor vehicle. One of the key aspects of the definition of a motor vehicle is that it is primarily designed for and used on the public highways (per Colorado Revised Statutes). Obviously a raft doesn't fit that definition. By the letter of the law, you can be cited for BUI if the ranger has probable cause that you are operating a vessel (IE raft) under the influence of alcohol. Technically the ranger does not have to prove that the influence is great enough to cause unsafe operation, just that influence was present. So observing you take a sip from a cold one while rowing would technically be enough to cite for BUI. Although this is just a technicality, it is actually quite a bit more restrictive than a DUI (which requires the influence to be enough to cause unsafe operation), but the consequences are less. There are absolutely no implications for your driver's license status in a BUI (same with a DUI on a bicycle, btw). They cannot compel you to take a chemical test (PBT or otherwise), and if you refuse to take a test your refusal cannot be used as evidence against you unless you are also cited for an additional crime beyond the BUI stemming from the same incident. They also can't compel you to participate in roadside maneuvers.

So her claim of writing those folks DUIs is total BS, and it sound's like she's just intimidating and threatening with no regard to how it affects the mood of your trip. It's a shame she can't just have a reasonable discussion with people putting in about moderation, safety, etc., wish them well on their journey, and let the normal river patrols do their job if they come across people who are out of control and unsafe. For her own sanity as much as everyone else's, she should probably seek another post if this is her attitude towards very normal and accepted boating practices. To someone's point below about who can write the tickets, gun/no gun is a good rule of thumb, but there are some limited-commission rangers/officers who are authorized to write these types of violations but are unarmed.
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Old 09-22-2018   #9
Norwood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Aug 2007
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This does sound suspicious. While there have been well documented issues with overzealous and frankly dickhead rangers at Dinosaur in the past ( I know first hand) our trip at the end of July this year was not one of them. The lady ranger who checked us in was obviously a commissioned officer with fire arm but was as sweet as pie and gave us no problem at the put in. I can't remember if anyone was already drinking at the time but probably so and she never mentioned it or the large amount of alcohol we were loading onto our boats. We saw several river ranger boats go by at various times during the trip but was never accosted, they just smiled and waved. Same at the take out, the volunteer gentlemen were friendly and helpful.

If someone was actually cited for BUI on the river how would they justify giving a citation and then not removing them from the oars. 5 people cited? I would also like to hear from someone who was there.
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Old 09-22-2018   #10
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 345
"Lodore" not "Ladore."
Something is not adding up here... don't want to excite the lawyers, and the DUI/BUI distinction is mostly irrelevant. Any LE professional needs to have probable cause to ask you to submit to a BAC or breathalyzer - that probable cause when operating a motor vehicle can range from failing a "field test" to allegedly smelling the "odor of alcohol." (If you want to pay for it, a no-holds-barred attorney can demand the arresting officer prove he/she can distinguish alcohol from other scents...)
Note this is different from the reason the LEA detains you - that can be a broken tail light on your motor vehicle, or sipping from a beer while rowing. But there has to be more to this story than folks loading "excessive" alcohol at the put-in.
If you're staggering around during pre-trip inspection, that's one thing. An open beer 15 minutes before camp is another. Folks loading LOTS of booze @ put-in is not probable cause, and NPS flat out doesn't have the resources (budget&personnel) to dispatch a river patrol every time it happens...
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