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Man arrested for boating under the influence after zone violation

While the following story didn't occur here in Rhode Island, it is yet another installment in the line of boating under the influence stories that show how this offense can dramatically affect a person's life in a negative way. The man in this case is from Florida, and he was operating his vessel recently when police, in a joint move with the Florida Wildlife Commission, stopped him for operating in a "manatee slow speed zone."

The officers that pulled this man over surmised that the man was boating under the influence after he refused to take a field sobriety test. He was arrested and now faces some serious charges.

There are a couple of things to learn from this story. The first is that refusing field sobriety tests or breath tests will almost never help your case, regardless of whether the arrest is happening on the road or on the water. The police are likely to get their evidence anyway, and your refusal triggers automatic penalties that can make your situation even worse. Additionally, prosecutors may use your refusal to portray you as someone trying to get away with a crime.

The other element here is that maritime laws are often complex and it can be difficult for someone who is out on the water to know exactly what kind of zone, or speed limit, or specific law they are supposed to be observing at any given time. In this story, the "manatee slow speed zone" is the perfect example of this. Violating rules of this nature certainly aren't good for the individual, but many boaters have no idea they are in violation of a law until they are told.

Ignorance can't be an excuse though. Those who are accused of these violations need legal help to protect their rights and minimize the damage of the violation.

Source: Bradenton Herald, "Florida Wildlife Commission charges Venice man with BUI," April 12, 2015

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