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Boating OWI with a 0.18 PBT and Refusal Dismissed

Most often our firm deals with people accused of driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated.  But it also is possible to be accused of operating a boat while impaired.  That’s what happened to our client after he and friends spent the day boating on an area lake last summer.  There was, in fact, little doubt our client had consumed a significant amount of alcohol on the day of his arrest.  The problem for the prosecutor, however, was proving our client ever actually operated the boat while he was impaired.

The group got into trouble after a citizen witness called 911 to report a possible intoxicated boater. When police arrived at the boat launch area an hour later, they found an individual struggling to load boat matching the caller’s description on a trailer.  Our client was found sleeping in a passenger seat of the boat.  The individual who was attempting to load the boat was one of our client’s friends, and police believed he was intoxicated.  The friend admitted to having driven the boat to the launch site and informed police our client also had driven.  Police took a statement from our client during which he said he and his friend drove the boat.  Police arrested both men.  Our client was charged with boating while intoxicated and refusing to submit to a chemical analysis of his breath.  Attorney Chirafisi reviewed the police reports and saw the description of the boat driver, which had been provided by the citizen witness, matched our client’s friend, but not our client.  Attorney Chirafisi also recognized that while our client admitted to driving the boat that day, he did not specify when. He raised these issues with the prosecutor.  One week before the scheduled trial, the prosecutor agreed he could not prove our client was impaired when he drove the boat and dismissed both charges.

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