Great Lakes Coast Guard continues boating-under-the-influence enforcement

9th Coast Guard District News
CLEVELAND — Great Lakes Coast Guard crews were busy over the weekend, conducting law enforcement boardings that resulted in the issuance of documentation to six boaters — including one federal ticket and five civil penalties — for boating-under-the-influence of alcohol.

The Coast Guard wants boaters to enjoy recreational activity on the water, however we will always stress that drinking and boating do not mix.

“The Coast Guard is out on the water to ensure your safety as well as the safety of others,” said Cmdr. Dave Beck, chief of the 9th Coast Guard District Enforcement Branch. “It is your responsibility to operate your boat safely.”

What follows is a short review of some of the recent activity.
Note: The names of those ticketed or fined are not being released. For privacy reasons, it is Coast Guard policy to withhold the names of those issued federal tickets until the matter becomes public record and names of those accused are placed on the appropriate court docket. The names of those issued civil penalties, documented on a Coast Guard-4100 report, are also withheld until a Coast Guard hearing officer reviews the reports, to preserve the privacy of those individuals.

The first tickets were issued late Friday, one in Lake Erie and one on the Black River near Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

Click here to view the story for Lake Erie, and here for the Black River story. The following information, pertaining to four cases that occurred later, has not been previously released.

At 7:05 p.m. Saturday, a Coast Guard law enforcement boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Marblehead, Ohio, aboard a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boarded a 22-foot recreational vessel with five people aboard near the Portage River in Lake Erie.

During the boarding, the boarding officer noticed that the operator was showing signs of impairment. The boarding officer conducted six field sobriety tests, which the operator failed. A breath analysis test revealed the operator had a blood alcohol content of 0.110.

The boarding officer issued the operator a civil penalty for BUI. The vessel was turned over to a sober operator who safely moored it at a dock on the Portage River.

A little more than two hours later, Station Marblehead’s boatcrew boarded a 36-foot vessel with four people aboard just east of Marblehead Light in Lake Erie.

Again, the boarding officer detected signs of impairment on the operator as the operator was not able to stand up, could not complete any FSTs and refused to complete a breath analysis test.

The boarding officer issued a federal ticket for BUI to the operator due to non-compliance.  The vessel was turned over to a sober operator and escorted to Sandusky Harbor, Ohio, where it was safely moored.

At about 9:40 p.m. Saturday, a rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Bayfield, Wis., aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium responded to a report of a 20-foot recreational vessel with one person  on board that was aground on the rocks near Washburn, Wis.

Station Bayfield arrived on scene and used its SKF-ICE, an inflatable, shallow-water craft, to reach the individual and bring him back to shore. The Bayfield County Sheriff was contacted when the operator was noticed to be showing signs of intoxication.

A breath analysis test was conducted on the operator by the sheriff, indicating a BAC of 0.169, and the individual was taken into custody for operating under the influence. The Coast Guard also issued a civil penalty for BUI to the operator.

There are no reports of any injuries or pollution and plans have been made to salvage the vessel.

At 9:50 p.m. Sunday, a Station Marblehead law enforcement team aboard a 33-foot SPC-LE boarded a 28-foot recreational vessel with six people aboard near the Huron Boat Basin, Ohio.

The boarding officer detected signs of intoxication on the vessel’s operator and conducted FSTs and a breath analysis test. The operator’s BAC was 0.088.

The boarding officer issued the operator a civil penalty and a sober operator took the vessel to the Huron Boat Basin, where it was trailored.

The Coast Guard can’t stress enough the importance of staying sober while operating a vessel. Alcohol was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents last year.

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.


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