Aug 16, 2009

Oakland Sheriff's Marine Division Downsizing

You had to see this coming. In this era of government funding shortfalls, and given Brooks Patterson's ever watchful budgetary eye, the Oakland County Sheriff's Marine Division takes a funding hit.

Watercraft enthusiasts using Oakland County's many navigable lakes have all seen the Sheriff's white runabouts (with blue flashing stem-light) patrolling the county waterways on busy weekends and holidays. These units have probably kept a dampener on serious drunk driving by watercraft operators.

Such patrols will be eliminated after this season, according to the Sheriff's Department. This cutback does not mean the end of the Marine Division. But now, townships and municipalities will have to contract with the Sheriff if their waterway(s) are to be patrolled by the Marine Division.

The Macomb and Wayne County Sheriff Marine Divisions have international waterways to patrol as part of their mission. They both work with the U.S. Coast Guard and now, Homeland Security. In Oakland County, however, the primary focus of the Sheriff's Marine Division is safe boating. That goal has been achieved by enforcing the drunk driving laws on the lakes.

One of the challenges to this enforcement is the patchwork of local ordinances governing alcohol on the various lakes. Some Oakland County lakes, like Orchard Lake, prohibit alcohol. Many others, however, not only allow alcohol, the boat driver can have a beverage in his lap while operating the vessel.

Now, with the removal of most Oakland County Marine Division patrols, our waterways may become more dangerous, as some boaters (by nature, out there to have a good time) elect to imbibe more alcohol.

If you've recently been ticketed by one of the Oakland County Sheriff's Marine patrols, and would like to discuss your options, give us a call.

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