Seafair weekend is just a few days away! This weekend marks the celebratory conclusion of Seattle’s summer-long festival of events and local tradition. Thousands of people will gather on and around Lake Washington, listening to music at Genesee Park and watching the fastest powerboat races in the world, as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly overhead.
For many, alcohol is a big part of the celebration. Local police will likely increase their presence and be on the lookout for drunk drivers, minors in possession, and violators of other alcohol-related crimes.
With all of the attention paid to DUI violations and penalties, “BUI” law is often overlooked. The fact is, police arrest dozens of boaters each year at Seafair weekend for BUI. Many people will be drinking as a part of the festivities this Seafair weekend and BUI arrests are a legitimate risk.
What is BUI?
BUI refers to “Boating under the Influence” (RCW 79A.60.040), which is a significant criminal offense in Washington State. It is important to be aware of the law and potential consequences involved with a BUI conviction.
BUI is similar to DUI in theory, but it is its own charge and is governed by a separate statute (RCW 79A.60.040). This statute details Washington State law involved with operation of a vessel under the influence of Intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug:
- It is unlawful for any person to operate a vessel in a reckless manner.
- It is unlawful for a person to operate a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug. A person is considered to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if, within two hours of operating a vessel:
- The person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
- The person has a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
- The person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug; or
- The person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, and any drug.
A breath test machine and sobriety tests are generally used in trying to determine the accused’s level of intoxication, and a person who operates a vessel in Washington State is deemed to have given consent for testing. RCW 79A.60.040 provides more information about how the law incorporates testing and consent.
Boating under the Influence (BUI) is a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, penalties may include up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. In addition, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution for any damages or injuries resulting from the offense. One significant difference between BUI and DUI is that under BUI law, a conviction will not result in suspension or revocation of driver’s license.
BUI is a significant offense. In addition to immediate penalties of potential jail time and fines, a conviction results in a misdemeanor charge on your criminal record. If you are charged with Boating under the Influence, is essential to work with an experienced defense attorney to fight for the best possible outcome in your case. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.