With many people extending their Fourth of July holiday, the lakes and coasts of Washington are expected to be extra busy with recreational boaters this weekend. If you're planning on being out on Washington waters, you need to be cautious if you're planning on drinking or using recreational marijuana. Law enforcement from 53 state agencies will increase their presence on Washington waters this weekend as part of “Operation Dry Water,” a national program to look for boaters under the influence.
According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), boating under the influence is the leading cause of boating deaths and a leading factor in all boating accidents. In Washington, alcohol is the number one cause in 17% of boating fatalities.
“Those involved in Operation Dry Water, including participating law enforcement agencies and our boating safety partners, urge every boater keep themselves and others on the water safe by choosing to stay sober while boating,” said the NASBLA director. “Operation Dry Water” doesn't just apply to motorized boats--law enforcement will also be checking kayakers, canoers, and rafters.
Since Operation Dry Water began in 2009, over 3,500 impaired boaters have been removed from waters across the country.
Washington Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Law
According to Washington 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:
(a) 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
(b) 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
(c) The person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug; or
(d) The person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, and any drug."
Violating the Washington BUI law is a gross misdemeanor and punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
How to Avoid a BUI Charge
If you were really looking forward to imbibing while being out on Washington waters this weekend, there are a few things you can do to ensure you avoid a BUI charge.
- Designate a sober skipper before hitting the water.
- Make sure the sober skipper not only knows how to operate the boat but also the vehicle and trailer that will tow the boat (if applicable).
- Bring non-alcoholic beverages on board so that everyone stays hydrated.
- Make sure everyone on the boat understands boating safety procedures and wears their lifejackets at all times.
BUI Attorney Steve Karimi
Steve Karimi has proven and effective legal skills to represent clients across the state of Washington. He is a former prosecutor who now works to defend people against DUI/BUI charges, no matter how cut-and-dried the case may seem. If you get snared in “Operation Dry Water” this weekend, call the Law Offices of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 immediately for a free consultation.