As the Fourth of July weekend inches closer, the Washington State Parks Boating Program is advising boaters to keep everyone safe by not consuming alcohol or marijuana while out on the water.
WSPBP, along with many other law enforcement agencies, are conducting Operation Dry Water, a nationally coordinated effort that focuses on boating-under-the-influence awareness and enforcement. Boaters will see an increase in patrols on fresh and marine waters across the state from July 3 through July 5.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, BUI is the leading known contributing factor in fatal recreational boating accidents. In Washington, it is illegal to use any substance that impairs a person’s ability to operate a boat. The law applies to all types of water vehicles, such as kayaks, canoes, rowboats and inflatable fishing rafts. Here are a few things WSPBP has asked boaters to consider:
- State law allows law enforcement officers to require boaters suspected of operating a boat while intoxicated to submit to a breath or blood test.
- Refusing to submit to a test is a civil infraction with a maximum fine of $2,050.
- The penalty for operating a boat under the influence is a gross misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 364 days in jail.
- Additionally, a BUI is considered a prior offense if there are later convictions for driving under the influence (DUI).
Boaters can learn more about BUI laws in Washington State and about the risks of boating under the influence by visiting boatsober.org.