Derek Patrin was able to create another success story if you’re one of our clients recently in Dakota County. Our client was charged with boating while impaired on the river after a Fourth of July celebration in Hastings. There was a dispute about whether he was the one operating the boat or if he was simply helping the actual driver navigate the boat by using the depth finder. Officers thought they got a recorded confession from him, and the prosecutor agreed. However, the judge disagreed after hearing testimony from our client and the actual driver of the boat.
The prosecutor still argued that our client should be found guilty of exercising “physical control” over the boat because he was positioned near the controls and could access them at any time, plus he used some of the depth finder controls. He mentioned some old appellate cases that found passengers in “physical control” of motor vehicles when they did things like reaching a foot over from the passenger side to press the accelerator. Mr. Patrin argued that the boat setting should not be treated the same way. The judge noted during the announcement of her “not guilty” verdict that Mr. Patrin’s closing argument was particularly persuasive because he stressed the unique nature of the boat’s layout compared to a motor vehicle. Finding guilt in this case, he argued, would lead to any passengers being guilty of being in “physical control” of any type of vehicle simply because they COULD reach the controls.
This verdict of “not guilty” was especially important for this client because Mr. Patrin had already successfully challenged his client’s loss of his driver’s license from this incident. A guilty verdict at trial would have triggered the license revocation to come back on his record along with a loss of boating privileges.