The Hlllsborough County Sheriff's Department, which serves the Tampa area, arrested one of its own deputies recently as part of a routine boating patrol off the coast. The deputy was detained on charges of boating under the influence of alcohol and posted a $500 bail. He has also been suspended from his job without pay until the sheriff completes an internal investigation.
According to reports, another deputy initiated a stop for the purpose of checking the boat for proper safety equipment. The deputy who stands accused reportedly did not slow down right away and instead swapped places with a female on the boat.
The deputy who boarded the boat spotted beer cans and also noted what he depicted as erratic behavior on the part of the suspect. He also noted that he smelled alcohol on the deputy's breath, and the deputy allegedly did not perform standard field sobriety tests satisfactorily.
The deputy submitted to a certified breath test. Interestingly, his BAC level twice measured below .08, which is the legal limit. However, this fact alone does not prevent the state from pursuing drunk driving, or in this case, drunk boating charges.
The deputy reportedly has no disciplinary history at his job with the Sheriff's Department during his over five-year tenure there. However, even if this is his first offense, he still faces serious consequences, including the possibility of a suspension of his boating or driving privileges, probation, fines and even jail time. Additionally, this young man also faces the prospect of losing his job as a law enforcement officer and may have to find a new career. He will no doubt want to think carefully about his defense to these charges.