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Man suspected of drunk boating with 9 passengers in Michigan

According to a Van Buren County sheriff's deputy, a 27-year-old man who was operating a motor vehicle appeared drunk and was subsequently charged with OWI. The man was not operating a car; however, he was driving a pontoon on a Michigan lake.

Police say they initially stopped the pontoon to conduct a vessel safety check. According to police, there were nine passengers on the pontoon, including three children. It is not clear why the police have reason to believe the man was intoxicated

Regardless, they arrested him and charged him on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Like any other motor vehicle, it is illegal to operate a boat in the state of Michigan with a blood alcohol content in excess of the legal limit.

Whether pursued as a misdemeanor or felony, an OWI charge can have lifelong consequences. Because of this, the police are required to provide sufficient, reliable evidence in support of drunk driving related charges. If they fail to do so, or if the defense finds errors in the state's case, the charge could be dismissed entirely.

Too often, however, a person charged with drunk driving incorrectly believes the state has a water-tight case immediately after they are arrested; thus, they are led to believe there is nothing they can do to defend themselves. Other times, a person convicted of drunk driving accepts the punishment suggested by the prosecutor as nonnegotiable. Both of these incorrect assumptions can cause a person to pay unnecessary fines and spend an excessive amount of time behind bars. As such, it is often essential to vigorously challenge the state's case and evidence when drunk driving charges have been brought forward.

Source: Michigan Live, "Pontoon boat driver with nine passengers jailed on suspicion of drunken boating, Van Buren County police say," Rex Hall Jr., July 2, 2012

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