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Posted by Michelle Dellino | May 26, 2017 | 0Comments

Many people in a boat

It's that time of year again! The weather is heating up and Washingtonians are ready to get out on the water. This week, the Seattle Times reminds us that police patrols are ready to be on the look-out for intoxicated boaters.

The article describes an increased, targeted effort by law enforcement agencies to crack down on boaters under the influence of drugs or alcohol throughout Washington State. City and county marine patrol units are joined by the state Parks Boating Program and state Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Police to create emphasis patrols, set to begin this weekend.

The special patrols will begin this Memorial Day weekend and run several weekends through August. The article provides more information about locations and dates statewide.

Boaters are encouraged to designate a sober captain, refrain from boating the influence, and keep the waters safe!

What is BUI?

BUI refers to “Boating under the Influence” (RCW 79A.60.040), which is a gross misdemeanor and 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):

  1. It is unlawful for any person to operate a vessel in a reckless manner.
  2. 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. A person who operates a vessel in Washington State is deemed to have given consent for testing.

Under state law, boaters suspected of being intoxicated who refuse to comply with taking a breath or blood test face a civil penalty of $2,050.

RCW 79A.60.040 provides more information about how the law incorporates testing and consent.


If convicted of BUI, penalties may include up to 364 days in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine. In addition, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution for any damages or injuries resulting from the offense.

This law applies to all boats, including kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and inflatable fishing rafts.

Legal Representation:

BUI is a significant offense and consequences may include potential jail time and fines. In addition, a conviction results in a misdemeanor charge on your criminal record. If you are charged with BUI, is essential to work with an experienced defense attorney to fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Our DUI attorneys at Dellino Law Group are extremely knowledgeable in BUI and DUI law and are committed to each and every unique case. Our attorneys will exhaust all angles and work toward reducing charges to a simple infraction or even complete dismissal when possible. If you are facing BUI or DUI charges, please contact our office as soon as possible for a Free Consultation.


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