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Prosecutors drop BUI case against Hillsborough sheriff's deputy

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office decided to dimiss the case against Alexander Craver, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputy arrested last month on a charge of boating under the influence. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office decided to dimiss the case against Alexander Craver, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputy arrested last month on a charge of boating under the influence. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Published Aug. 13, 2018

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy arrested on a boating under the influence charge last month is in the clear after prosecutors declined to move forward with the case.

Still unclear, however, is whether Alexander Craver will get his job back.

Craver, 28, of Riverview was arrested July 1 after a Sheriff's Office marine patrol deputy stopped the pontoon boat Craver was piloting in Tampa Bay near a spoil island off Apollo Beach. The deputy smelled alcohol on Craver's breath and he performed poorly on field sobriety tests, an arrest report says.

Craver provided breath samples at a Sheriff's Office marine station showing his blood alcohol level at slightly less than 0.06 percent. Florida presumes a driver or boater is impaired at 0.08 percent. Craver was placed on unpaid administrative leave.

On July 17, the State Attorney's Office filed a notice stating that it was dismissing the case after reviewing the arrest affidavit.

"He wasn't impaired, legally," said Estella Gray, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office. "It was pretty cut and dry."

A Sheriff's Office spokesman said the incident is still being investigated internally.

Reached Monday, Craver declined to comment because of that pending review. He said he is still on unpaid administrative leave.

Asked if he wanted his job back, Craver replied: "Absolutely."

Ty Trayner, a defense attorney who was representing Craver in the criminal case, said he should have never been arrested.

"He's below the legal limit and they still booked him," Trayner said. "If the state files a case, they believe there's probable cause, at least, to go forward. In this case, the state didn't even think there was probable cause."

The marine patrol deputy turned on his boat's emergency lights to stop the pontoon boat for a safety inspection, according to the report. Craver, who was behind the wheel of the boat, initially failed to slow down even after spotting the marked patrol boat, the report says.

Craver motioned to a woman on the boat to take the wheel and they switched spots while the boat was still moving and in gear, the report says. The woman took the helm, put the boat in neutral and it came to a stop.

Craver initially told a deputy he didn't have identification, then produced a Florida driver's license, according to the report. The deputy noticed several open beer containers on the boat, including one in a cupholder at the helm.

The deputy asked Craver to produce personal flotation devices and a throwable float. Craver stumbled and braced himself and was unable to comply even after the deputy explained what the device looked like, the report says. The deputy then pointed out a flotation device attached to the captain's chair of the boat.

Craver was taken to the marine station and after a 20-minute observation period provided breath samples. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail and released on $500 bail, according the Sheriff's Office.

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Trayner said the boat belonged to Craver's girlfriend and he was unfamiliar with the vessel. She'd asked him to hold the wheel while she did something on the boat and that's when they were stopped, Trayner said.

Craver, of Riverview, started with the Sheriff's Office in 2012 as a community service officer in Detention Services and then worked in the Communications Center, according to a Sheriff's Office news release issued after his arrest. He became a patrol deputy in 2017 and has no prior disciplinary history, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.