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Alleged impaired boat operator will not face criminal charges

The family of a deceased 22-year-old university graduate who drowned in an airboat accident in Florida last May cannot understand why the operator of the vessel cannot be held responsible for their daughter's death. Prosecutors recently determined that no criminal charges could be brought against the boat operator. This ruling was despite the fact that he allegedly had an excessively high level of THC in his blood, indicating impairment by marijuana.

Reportedly, the young woman joined her family on the airboat trip on the Everglades, and all went well until the operator of the boat had to deviate off course to avoid another stationary vessel. The veteran boat operator admits to slowing down too much while turning, causing the airboat to flip over, ejecting all the passengers. Apparently, the woman became trapped under the boat. Her life could not be saved.

Reportedly, investigators of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission considered reckless operation but ruled it out as the operator slowed down to navigate around the other vessel. Furthermore, although blood tests revealed a high marijuana presence, Florida laws have no set minimum level to indicate impairment by THC as with the .08 percent limit for alcohol. Moreover, along with all the passengers that were on the boat, the deceased woman's medically-trained parents said the boat operator showed no signs of impairment.

This case underscores the fact that being suspected of unlawful behavior does not mean guilt. Anybody in Florida who is under suspicion of impaired driving of a car or boat can secure the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney even before criminal charges are filed. With the help of an attorney, an accused individual may be able to show the prosecution that sufficient grounds for felony charges do not exist.

Source: Miami Herald, "Airboat skipper who smoked weed before fatal crash won't be charged", David Ovalle, March 1, 2018

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