Federal court fines Ohio man for boating under the influence of alcohol

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsConviction, sentencing is 3rd on Great Lakes this month

CLEVELAND — The 9th Coast Guard District announced Monday that a Sandusky, Ohio, resident pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to pay a $725 fine in federal court for boating under the influence.

Timothy D. Fresch, 56, was sentenced by U.S. District Magistrate Judge James R. Knepp for a charge that on Aug. 30, he operated a recreational vessel on Lake Erie while under the influence of alcohol, in violation of federal and Ohio laws.

This case is the third this month involving someone in northern Ohio convicted under federal law for boating under the influence during the spring and summer of 2012.

Earlier this month, a similar conviction was handed out to Bradley J. Green, 29, from Garfield Heights, Ohio, who pleaded guilty to operating a recreational vessel under the influence of alcohol on May 26 near Kelly’s Island on Lake Erie. Green was also ordered to pay a $725 fine.

On Nov. 1, Christopher J. Cook, 47, of Ashtabula, Ohio, pleaded guilty to operating a recreational vessel on the Ashtabula River while under the influence of alcohol. He was ordered to pay a $250 fine.

The Coast Guard and every state have stringent penalties for boaters violating BUI laws. The federal statute can be found in Title 46, U.S. Code, Section 2302. Penalties can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms.

“When mariners boat under the influence, it puts all those around them at significant risk,” said Capt. Stephen Torpey, chief of response for the 9th District. “We want mariners to enjoy our nation’s waterways but to do it safely and responsibly. The Coast Guard will continue to work closely with federal, state, and local partners to ensure the safety of those on the water.”

Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents afloat — for both passengers and boat operators. Coast Guard data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, more than half the victims either capsized their boat or fell overboard.

Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land. The marine environment — motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray — accelerates a drinker’s impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.

When the Coast Guard determines that an operator is impaired, the operator’s voyage may be terminated. The vessel may be brought to a mooring by the Coast Guard or turned over to a competent and un-intoxicated person aboard the recreational vessel. Depending on the circumstances, the Coast Guard may arrest the operator, detain him until sober, or turn him over to state or local authorities.

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