PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- A Punta Gorda man was arrested Sunday on charges of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) during the Sheriff's Office's participation in Operation Dry Water this past weekend.
On Sunday at about 7:30 p.m., the Marine Patrol Unit was in the area of Alligator Bay near Port Charlotte Beach when they saw a boat that was ‘on plane’ approaching them. The deputies could see that there was a man, later identified as Robert Patrick Castleberry, 40, at the helm.
The deputies activated their emergency lights to pull the boat over so they could conduct a safety inspection. Castleberry was asked to produce the required safety equipment for his vessel, but he was unable to show them the required Type IV throw-able seat cushion. He was issued a warning citation for not having the required equipment on board.
While the deputies were talking with Castleberry, they noted that he smelled of alcoholic beverages and his eyes were bloodshot with dilated pupils. They asked him to perform a seated field sobriety test. Castleberry said he would take the test, but denied operating the boat. He claimed instead that his female passenger had been operating the vessel. The deputies pointed out that they had seen him operating the boat, not the female passenger.
During the seated field sobriety test, Castleberry failed to follow the directions given and failed to correctly complete the various phases of the test. He was placed under arrest on the BUI charge. The boat was returned to the boat ramp at Port Charlotte Beach where it was turned over to its owner. Castleberry was booked into the Charlotte County Jail and is being held on a $5,000 bond.
During the three-days of Operation Dry Water, the Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Unit conducted a total of 107 vessel stops and safety checks. They found a total of 38 various violations and issued five citations, in addition to numerous warnings. They also worked one boating accident.