Impaired people operating a boat get busted for BUI – boating under the influence – not driving under the influence. A BUI is a misdemeanor, not a gross misdemeanor like a DUI. A BUI does not affect your driver’s license, but if you’re on probation for DUI, for example, that would count as another alcohol violation. People can have an open container in a boat and can be operating the boat with an open container, but just can’t be impaired, he said. The .08 limit for breath-alcohol level applies for boats and cars. If a drunken boater seriously injuries someone, they could face a felony charge.
Memorial Day Weekend is the biggest weekend in most states for drunken boating tickets.
In an effort to crack down, many states are launching what it describes as the largest anti-drunk boating patrol in the nation. Example: A 60-foot temporary dock is being installed at Proctor Landing on Mercer Island for additional patrol boats. A temporary alcohol-testing and holding facility will be placed near the dock, as well as several fenced detention areas. Similar docks has been installed for same circumstances. On land, additional officers will be patrolling for drunken drivers. Prosecutors will also be on hand. The State Patrol typically partners with the Police Department’s marine unit, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the County Prosecutors Office.
Last year, 62 boaters were arrested for alcohol-related offenses. Fifty-four suspected drunken drivers were also arrested on King County roads. The 2008 Seafair emphasis accounted for 84 BUI arrests, 21 minor in possession of alcohol arrests and seven other criminal arrests – part of 413 vessel contacts, according to the State Patrol. There was only one injury boat collision reported during the 2008 Seafair weekend. Between 2004 and 2008, the Seafair BUI emphasis had resulted in 418 BUI arrests in addition to other criminal arrests, according to the State Patrol.
So what happens if you get arrested for suspicion of boating under the influence and you refuse a Breathalyzer test?
Boating under the influence suspects have been given a notice during previous Seafair celebrations. “Your case may be forwarded to the United States Coast Guard for civil proceedings,” it read. “If you are not charged under the criminal statutes of the state of Washington, you will be contacted by the commander of the office of law enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard.” Fines can be between $1,000 and $5,000, according to the State Patrol. If boaters don’t pay the fine, he said they can be subject to losing their boat.