Thanks to the great sailing experience that Puget Sound provides, Washington’s inland marine waters often see a lot of traffic. Because of this, ensuring the boaters’ safety on the water becomes a matter of great import and, in fact, is the primary consideration behind Washington State’s boating under the influence (BUI) laws. We here at the Law Offices of Kim E Hunter, PLLC make it a point to stay on top of all developments on the matter so that we may provide the most effective legal service possible for our clients.
Sailing tradition has, since antiquity, gone hand in hand with the consumption of alcohol, hence the stereotype of the drunken sailor. However, in July 2013, Substitute Senate Bill 5437 was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee that has effectively closed that chapter in sailing history—in the State of Washington, at least.
Until recently, BUI was nothing more than a misdemeanor that would warrant no more than a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000; SSB 5437 expanded that. Today, an arrest for reckless boating may warrant the aforementioned penalty, but BUI, now considered a gross misdemeanor, may levy a 364 day jail sentence and a fine of up to $5,000.
Furthermore, Revised Code of Washington 79A.60.040—the law on reckless boating and BUI—has been amended to include “implied consent” language. As a result of this change, any person who “operates” a boat within the State of Washington agrees to subject himself to a breath or blood test for alcohol or any intoxicating substance, such as marijuana or any other drug.
Refusal to submit to a breath or blood test may result in a class 1 civil infraction carrying a fine of $1,000, charged against the defendant, on top of other statutory assessments. Should a person refuse to be tested, law enforcement may still do so by first obtaining a search warrant.
When faced with a BUI, it is important that the accused immediately contact an experienced Tacoma DUI lawyer who can provide them with a capable defense and allow them to avoid the now-stiffer consequences of the offense. Several defenses may be used to argue one’s innocence in BUI cases, including improper testing procedures—such as the administration of a field sobriety test on a vessel in choppy seas.
For more information, or to request for assistance, on a BUI offense, use the information provided on our website to contact a respectable Tacoma DUI attorney from the Law Offices of Kim E Hunter, PLLC.