Our client was arrested on the Fourth of July. He was out celebrating at the landing with several friends. His friend, the owner of the vessel, untied the boat and navigated them to open waters in the St. Johns River. Once they were in a safe area, the captain placed the throttle in idle and went to the bow of the boat to pull in the bumpers. However, he forgot to turn on his 360 degree navigational light, as required by law. The vessel was observed by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers without proper illumination, so they approached the vessel. Our client was sitting on the bench chair, next to his girlfriend, behind the steering wheel and near the throttle. When FWC approached, he leaned around the center console to tell the captain what was happening. The FWC officers noticed our client with his hand on the wheel of the vessel, so they assumed he was the one in actual physical control of the vessel. After a subsequent investigation, he was arrested for Boating Under the Influence.
We filed a motion to suppress evidence based on the fact that our client was not in actual physical control of the vessel. An evidentiary hearing was held. Both FWC officers testified, as well as our client’s girlfriend and the captain of the boat. After the hearing, the judge ruled in our favor, finding that our client was not in actual physical control of the vessel. After the ruling, the State dropped the case against our client.