Every year, Seafair draws huge crowds of boat enthusiasts to the Puget Sound area for ten weeks of summer fun. With boat racing, airplanes, amateur athletics, and more than 70 other events, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
As with any event attracting millions of people – especially one involving watersports – safety is a top priority. Part of ensuring safety at this event is strict enforcement of BUI laws (boating under the influence).
According to Yahoo! News, Washington law states that it is unlawful to operate a boat or other watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Similar to driving laws, it is illegal for a boat operator to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If a watercraft operator is stopped and is found to have a BAC exceeding this limit, they can be charged with BUI and face gross misdemeanor charges.
Boating under the influence is not just limited to alcohol. Boaters can also face BUI charges if they are found to have a blood THC content of 5.00 or higher. Boating under the influence of marijuana, like alcohol, is also a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 (RCW 79A.60.020.)
As in DUI cases, boaters do have a right to refuse to take a breath test. While evidence of refusal will not be admissible in court should there be a trial, refusal does constitute a class 1 civil infraction that could result in a fine of up to $1,000.
Because BUI laws are both state and federal, the state police, local police, and federal Coast Guard can all enforce them. With the Seafair running until the end of this month, you can be sure that law enforcement will be on the lookout for boaters who appear to be driving in a negligent manner suggesting intoxication.
If you or someone you know have been stopped, questioned, or arrested for driving under the influence, the first call you should make is to a qualified DUI defense attorney. We are available 24/7 on our on-call attorney line at 253-691-4453.