Pinellas boater charged with DUI after string of Thanksgiving crashes on the water

Robert Hart
Robert Hart
Published Nov. 26, 2016

MADEIRA BEACH — Robert Clark Hart had a rough Thanksgiving on the water.

Pinellas County deputies say he destroyed a dock and crashed into two boats before being arrested on charges of boating under the influence and leaving the scene of a vessel crash involving property damage.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday, Hart was cruising through John's Pass with no navigational lights when he crashed into Don's Dock, "destroying it," according to an arrest report from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Then Hart, 44, of 2100 Nursery Road, fled and hit a vessel tied up next to the dock.

He continued heading north through the Intracoastal Waterway. Deputies spotted Hart's boat and watched as it approached the marina at the Tom Stuart Causeway and hit an anchored sailboat. Hart then threw a line to the deputies on the dock, requesting help tying up his boat.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer who responded said Hart acknowledged his boat "struck something." The officer noticed "signs of impairment," including "a strong scent of an unknown alcoholic substance emanating from his breath, slurred speech, unsteady balance while standing, failure to follow instructions and red/watery eyes."

A number listed for Hart on the arrest report was not working.

A man answering the phone at Don's Dock declined to comment.

Hart has a lengthy arrest record in Pinellas County, with charges dating back to 1991, according to online court records. He had multiple charges stemming from alcohol-related offenses, including driving while under the influence of alcohol and disorderly intoxication.

Court records also show multiple charges for traffic violations, including speeding and careless driving.

As of late Friday, Hart was still being held in Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $750 bail.

Times staff writer LaVendrick Smith contributed to this report.