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Boating Season Starts: Overview of Washington Boating Under Influence Laws

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | May 03, 2013 | 0 Comments

Boating season starts in the Seattle area this weekend. Many individuals will be visiting lakes, rivers, and even the Puget Sound to enjoy time with their family and friends. But as more people go boating, there is also typically a marked increase in boating under the influence (BUI) arrests and subsequent criminal charges.

BUI and DUI are very similar. However, they are distinct bodies of law and there are differences between the two.

Washington BUI Laws

It is generally illegal for someone to operate a boat in a reckless manner or to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol. (RCW 79A.60.040). Just as with driving under the influence, the law sets the legal limit of drinking and boating at 0.08 blood alcohol content or if the operator is otherwise under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Someone who is charged with a BUI faces misdemeanor charges that can include a monetary fine and up to a 90-day jail sentence. However, if the boater causes serious injury or death, that person can face felony charges and much more serious penalties.

One significant distinction between BUI and DUI law is that the boater will not face a possible driver's license suspension for a BUI conviction nor will the driver need to install an ignition interlock device.

Individuals should be aware that BUI laws apply to all vessels in the water. So you don't need to be operating a high-powered motorboat to be arrested for the crime. You could be drunk and paddling a kayak and be arrested.

What Are Signs of Boating Under the Influence?

Law enforcement may be on the lookout for a variety of signs of boating under the influence. These can include excessive speeds, generally unsafe boating practices, and even simple observation of the boater drinking.  WIth great weather on the horizon for Western Washington, be prepared for numerous boaters AND law enforcement on the waterways.

Contact a Seattle BUI Defense Attorney

Boating under the influence is similar, yet different, from driving under the influence. As a result, someone facing a BUI charge will want to work with an attorney experienced in handling this type of law.

If you have been charged with a BUI in the Seattle or King County areas, contact the Seattle BUI attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense. We are experienced BUI defense attorneys and will ensure that your rights are represented. Contact one of the attorneys directly at 425-284-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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