Boating Under the Influence Case Dismissed, for the Fifth Time This Year
For the third time this year, we had a Boating Under the Influence case totally dismissed. In our other two boating cases this year, the charges were reduced to Reckless Operation. That's five for five on Boating Under the Influence cases in 2016.
Our success with boating cases is really not surprising, all things considered. It's very easy for police to make mistakes in investigating cases involving Boating and Alcohol. For one thing, the lanes on the lakes and oceans are not clearly marked. The variability of conditions makes it very difficult to eyeball whether an operator is driving "erratically." There is wind. And waves. And some boats are just not as stable as others.
There is a second problem with investigating a nautical alcohol case. The field sobriety exercises were not designed to be done on the pitching deck of a pleasure boat. Things like balance and coordination, and even the smoothness of how the eyes track, are disturbed by being at sea. P
As a result, a high percentage of Boating Under the Influence arrests are unsupported by the evidence. In today's case, our client was stopped for speeding in a no wake zone. A quick glance in the boat found dozens of beer cans left over from months of fishing and drinking. It was enough that the police made an arrest, but when our client was returned to shore, he blew only .04 on the Intoxilyzer. That is one-half of the legal limit.
For months, the State insisted that our client plead guilty to Reckless Operation of a Vessel. We declined and set the case for trial. Five days before jury selection, the case was dismissed. Many years, we don't see a single Boating Under the Influence case during the entire year. This year we handled BUI cases for five clients. And none of the five was convicted of BUI.
Practice area(s): DUI / DWI