SeaFair boat operators, watch out! The legislature enacted stiffer penalties for Operating a Vessel Under the Influence, what is commonly referred to as a BUI (Boating Under the Influence). The new changes became effective July 28, 2013, in an obvious attempt to start enforcing the statute during SeaFair coming up this weekend. Be very careful having anything to drink while standing anywhere near the wheel of a boat, these law enforcement officers are vigilant and will stop boats for the slightest infraction or just board to ensure the proper number of life jackets are on board.
One noteworthy change is that previously no one who operated a vessel was deemed to have given consent to participate in a breath or blood test if arrested on suspicion of BUI, but the legislature has now changed that presumption. Now, if a boater arrested for BUI refuses a breath or blood test, he or she is subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Unlike a DUI, a refusal cannot be used against you in a criminal trial, but the individual is subjected to the civil penalty.
Your best bet is to refrain from drinking and operating the boat, but if you or someone you know is in that situation, it is best to refuse all field sobriety tests and, if arrested, consult with an attorney prior to the administration of a breath or blood test.
Here is the link to the applicable statute: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=79A.60.040.
Contact Nate Webb (425) 398-4323 if you have any questions about a BUI arrest.