Defense For Intoxicated Boater Says Client Not Responsible For Admitting He Drank Before Boat Crash

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Things could get ugly in the court room for one 23-year-old Marshfield man who was charged in connection to a 2011 fatal boat accident off Brant Rock. The suspect’s defense attorney, Gregory Sullivan, is arguing that his client, Justin McDonald, should not be held liable for admitting to police he had been drinking before the accident occurred.

McDonald has been charged with operating while intoxicated. He was piloting a motor boat on July 16, 2011and his friend, Steven “Zac” Woods, 23, was a passenger. McDonald hit a jetty off Brant Rock, which caused both men to fall into the water. McDonald was rescued by a kayaker but Woods was not found and his body was discovered a little over a week later by a town resident. Neither man had been wearing a life jacket when the boating accident occurred.

According to a Marshfield police report, McDonald admitted to having 10 beers during the day before the incident, which occurred just after 8 p.m., but claimed he was “a little buzzed,” but not drunk. The officer that arrested him also noted that he seemed to show no remorse and little concern for his missing friend. Police also said they found an empty 18-pack of beer under the vessel’s console and an open liquor-container near the steering wheel.

However, Sullivan said his client was not in the right state of mind to give that statement.

“Justin McDonald was in no position to give a knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights,” Sullivan argued, referring to a McDonald’s rights to remain silent and consult with a lawyer.

Sullivan argued his case during a suppression-of-evidence hearing on Thursday at Plymouth District Court. The hearing is to be continued on Nov. 30.

While McDonald is being charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI), the accident allegedly was caused by a steering malfunction. However, for some people, even one drink can cause a significant decrease in motor skills, judgment, vision, and coordination. Even though some might think that operating under the influence laws only apply to automobiles, federal and maritime law prohibits all boaters, from cruise ship operators to rowboat operators, from BUI.

Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs largely contributes to the number of maritime accidents, as does operating a vessel without sufficient experience or simply not paying attention to the surroundings. Boating accidents can be extremely severe, often leading to severe injuries and fatalities. However, those involved in a boat accident have a right to consult with a maritime lawyer to protect their rights. If you or someone you know was hurt or killed in an accident involving a motor boat, sail boat, jet ski, or any other type of pleasure craft, turn to our boat accident lawyers immediately for legal assistance in filing a case.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have been representing victims of boat accidents since 1971. You may also be entitled to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, which may include money damages, medical care and even property damage reimbursement. To see if you and your loved ones qualify for any settlement for your injuries or losses, contact our maritime attorneys today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights and benefits.

PHOTO SOURCE: boat-ed.com