Operation Dry Water was conducted this past weekend in Jacksonville, Florida. Operation Dry Water was a weekend of law enforcement officers looking for people who are boating under the influence. The United States Coast Guard works with local law enforcement to aggressively stop boaters with the hope of finding an impaired operator. The dates of this operation were June 24th through June 26th.
When you operate a boat on the waters of Jacksonville, you can be stopped by a number of agencies, including the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the United States Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Environmental Protection. Boating Under the Influence “stops” in Jacksonville differ from Driving Under the Influence (DUI) stops because on the water, you can be stopped for no reason at all. Law enforcement on the water can stop your vessel for a courtesy safety check. That means you are subject to being stopped at any time. Once aboard your boat, the officer can develop reasonable suspicion to believe you are drinking and boating and ask you to perform field sobriety exercises. Law enforcement is trying to smell your breath for alcohol, looking at your eyes to see if they are red or watery, watching your walk to see if you stumble or sway, and listening to your speech for slurs or stutters. If they observe these things, you can be forced to the shore to perform the field sobriety exercises, such as the walk and turn test, the one leg stand test, the finger to nose test, and the alphabet test. If the officer thinks you failed the tests and he or she thinks they have probable cause, you will be arrested for boating under the influence in Jacksonville.
To prove the crime of boating under the influence, the prosecutor must prove that you were operating a vessel and while operating the vessel, you were under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, chemical substance, or a controlled substance (drug) to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired or you had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or more. A “vessel” is a boat that is subject to a license tax for operation and includes every description of a watercraft, barge, air boat, other than a seaplane, on the water used or capable of being used for transportation on the water. “Normal Faculties” are the ability to see, hear, walk, judge distances, operate a boat, make judgments, act in emergencies, and perform the mental and physical acts of daily life. “Operate” means that you are in charge of, in command of, or in actual physical control of a boat on the waters of Florida.