Monday, January 26, 2015

Skipper Arrested for BUI after his Boat, Loaded w/ Passengers, Crashes into Channel Marker off Venetian Causeway ~ Call Michael A. Haber, Esq. @ **305DUI or **ARRESTED

Miami is one of the World's premier boating capitals.  I know because I've lived here for almost fifty (50) years and have been boating these waterways for forty (40+) plus of them.  

(Those are the "Christo Islands"... an artistic project which effected Biscayne Bay and garnished global acclaim from 1980-1983)

Suffice it to say that things have changed, dramatically over the years since I was a kid enjoying these waterways.  Back then, even as "tweens", my contemporaries and I had run of the bay, skiing, hydrosliding, tubing, frogging, fishing, swimming and generally enjoying Biscayne Bay, and even the Atlantic, and our folks had no (well, maybe not "no", but surely "few") worries.   But, like everything else, things change over time, and, just as kids can no longer walk to and from school, or to and from the local park or even play ball in the streets (for fear of child abduction or other victimization AND fear of DCF being called on "bad" neglectful / abusive parents) so too have the waterways become a potential disaster waiting to happen.

To my knowledge there has never been, and today there definitely is not, any restriction on operating a pleasure vessel on Florida waterways.  No license is required.  No training is required.  Insurance is not even required.  Yes, with all of the laws and regulations that Florida has on the books, this is one area which is mind bogglingly entirely absent, not to fail to mention necessary.  The net result is that in Florida any ass clown with access to a boat can do whatever the hell s/he wants with it....

including, in the case of the what happen on Saturday, January 24th, 2015 at about 8:30 pm off the Venetian Causeway, loading a nineteen (19) foot boat with nine (9) people aged 18-24, drinking (who knows how much for who knows how long) and crashing into a wood piling / channel marker.

(That is NOT the boat in question, its just an illustration.)  

In this case the cops (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission) blame the accident on booze, arresting the skipper for BUI (Boating Under the Influence).  Although one (1) female passenger was transported to the hospital, amazingly no one was killed, or even ejected from the vessel, especially as the FFWC officers determined that none of the five (5) women on board were wearing life jackets.

While "no wake", "manatee" zones and other restrictions have been put in place, and while marine law enforcement has definitely been ramped up over the years (the police presence is much higher), they simply cannot effectively either serve or protect (i.e. "police") the waterways.  There are simply too many - A LOT - of boats on the local waterways, and many of them are extremely powerful (over-powered even).  Moreover, many of the skippers are untrained and reckless, and many drink and operate their vessels while impaired,  Add to that the reality that about 1 in 50 (that's an estimation and not a fact) channel markers in the 305 are NOT lighted and, especially at night, you have a recipe for disaster.  

Florida's BUI Statute is found at F.S. 327.35.  It is essentially the same as the DUI statute but there are a few differences.  For one thing, unlike a car (which requires "probable cause" to conduct a "stop") there is no 4th Amendment issue relative to the cops "stopping" or "detaining" a vessel. Secondly, and as mentioned, you do not have to have a license of any sort to operate a vessel in Florida, so a BUI will not effect either your ability to drive a car or your driving privilege / license. There are others differences (such as "FST's" or sobriety tests and community service upon conviction) but the inapplicability of the 4th and the lack of license penalties are the biggies.  

As an avid boater, and a father of a(n almost) 10 year old boy (who cannot wait to have his own little skiff) I miss the days of my youth.  Yes, we were terrors in our own way (especially to anyone who happened to be mowing their lawn as we skied or hydroslided by, as we summoned every ounce of energy and skill that we could fathom to spray them with salt water), but still, the times did not pose a fraction of the treat that they do at present.  If you are a boater then please, pretty please, think about others and not just your own selfish self.  Honor "no wake" and manatee zones, keep a garbage bag on board  / don't pollute our waterways, feel free to drink until you puke BUT HAVE A DD on board and watch out for navigational and floating dangers (like pilings, channel markers, other boats, sea walls, shoals, palm fronds, debris, and so on.)   The waterways, especially our SoFlo waterways, are both world class and meant to be enjoyed, and I want my kid to be able to enjoy them without fear that you will run him down in a drunken or reckless stupor.  

When it comes to the subject of drinking and BOATING, the best advice that you are ever going to hear is:  "Don't do it!  Get a DD (Designated Driver), not a BUI".

Be smart: Don't drink and BOAT, but, if you do, just say "NO{thing}", don't blow (in FL your 2nd subsequent refusal is a crime) and call me stat at 305-381-8686, 305-798-2220, 1-888-SHARK-8-1.

Michael A. Haber, P.A.: Providing creative, effective and zealous criminal defense litigation services primarily in SoFlo since 1991.

At Michael A. Haber, P.A. "Its all about reasonable doubt"! 


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