So you thought you were going to have a great day on the water
Pine Island Sound is one of the greatest fishing estuaries in the country.
We are headed into prime fishing season and a day on the boat with a few brews is a great thing.
Did I say a “few brews”?
You have to be careful that a routine stop by the fish cops doesn’t result in an arrest for boating under the influence. They may be looking for an undersized snook and in the process find a dozen empty beer bottles or cans. That can trigger the marine patrol to request that you go to shore and perform “voluntary” sobriety exercises. If they have taken you to shore, they are going to arrest you anyway so do not perform these exercises. They will claim that the empty bottles give them a reasonable suspicion to suspect you are under the influence. Sadly, if three guys are on the water all day, it is easy to end up with a dozen empties and no one even remotely be impaired. That equates to four beers each over an entire day. We all know that no one ever finishes a hot beer anyway, so chances are, no one is close to drunk.
Often boating stops are allegedly for a “safety inspection” or the check the size of your catch. When it comes to fish, as in life, every inch matters. If you have an undersized grouper or snapper, or an out of season snook, you can find yourself under arrest or may be given a citation. If you are spear fishing in a prohibited area, you can get your gear seized and possibly your boat. We once defended a man in Federal Court who was actually indicted and prosecuted for illegally harvesting Florida lobsters. If you are in a National park and do something relatively minor, the Feds will make a “Federal case” out of the tiniest thing. I was once on a boat way up the river and got stopped by Sheriff’s deputies for exceeding the speed limit in a so called manatee area. I was boating right behind the Sheriff’s boat and when they increased their speed, I simply matched it. They turned around and stopped us and took information. Two months later, my son got a Federal violation notice. I later learned that the Sheriff’s department got Federal funds and had to produce ticket information to the Feds. They had to justify getting Federal money.