Boating Under the Influence

The Puget Sound is abundant with waterways, lakes and ocean access. On a sunny summer day Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish and popular locations like Alki are buzzing with ski boats, wave-runners and yachts. Unfortunately, many of those boaters consume alcohol and in fact might be committing the crime of Boating Under the Influence (BUI). Only an experienced Seattle BUI attorney can help with your drunk boating arrest.

Individuals that spend time on the waterways should be aware of the dangers of drinking and boating. Studies indicate Boating Under the Influence is extremely risky. Alcohol is a contributing factor in over 60% fatality boating accidents annually. This was the stunning discovery of Bruce A. Lawrence and Ted R. Miller.* This is also why those arrested for BUI must retain a knowledgeable Seattle BUI lawyer.

The Washington Legislature envisions safe waterways and enacted criminal laws penalizing certain conduct while operating a vessel. Well what counts as a vessel?

“Vessel” includes every description of watercraft on the water, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, sailboards, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers. RCW 79A.60.010(29).

Clearly, the combination of operating watercraft and consuming alcohol or drugs can lead to serious accidents on the water.

Washington aggressively enforces a drunk boating law. An individual operating a vessel on the water while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and or drugs is criminally liable. The prosecution must prove the vessel operator provided a breath or blood sample of 0.08 or higher. The prosecution can alternatively prove a BUI when the evidence supports the boat operator is under the influence of the intoxicating liquor and or drugs.

Boating Under the Influence Penalties

The penalties for a BUI criminal conviction are less harsh than that of a DUI conviction. In fact, a BUI is merely a misdemeanor crime carrying a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. A BUI does not require mandatory penalties like a DUI conviction does require mandatory DUI Penalties.

Further, there are no consequences in refusing the BAC breath test when arrested for a BUI. There are absolutely no drivers license sanctions when refusing the BUI breath test nor are there any drivers license consequences with a BUI criminal conviction. A BUI is still a criminal conviction, and is aggressively enforced.

If you are arrested for Boating Under the Influence seek a Seattle BUI Attorney immediately.

*Recent Research on Recreational Boating Accidents and the Contribution of Boating Under the Influence, Bruce A. Lawrence & Ted R. Miller, July 2006.