Two operators charged in ‘under influence’ boating stops

Two boat operators were charged with being under the influence Saturday when marine officers were taking part in the Operation Dry Water effort.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers made the misdemeanor arrests, both off Islamorada, during the three-day BUI crackdown that targets impaired boat operators.

A Miami man and a Key Largo man, both age 30, were booked in separate cases and held overnight before being released on bond. One arrest was made near Whale Harbor Channel, the other in Little Basin on the bayside off mile marker 81.5. A passenger in one case was arrested on a count of providing false identification information.

“Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion —stressors common to the boating environment — intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications,” the FWC said in an Operation Dry Water report. “We would rather arrest you than have to tell your family you’ve been killed in a boating accident.”

The FWC noted that in 2015, 11 of Florida’s 55 boating fatalities were in BUI-related accidents.

For the year, local, state and federal marine agencies in Florida filed 326 cases for boating under the influence. Those convicted could face jail sentences, fines and loss of boating privileges. The U.S. Coast Guard reported that nationwide in 2015, alcohol caused 260 recreational boating accidents, 91 deaths and 228 injuries.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206