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Boating Under the Influence Laws in Washington


A long time tradition in the state of Washington involves drinking while navigating the waters throughout the state. Those who want to hold true to tradition should make sure that they are fully aware of the updated laws affecting drinking and boating this summer. In July 2013, a change in the law was made by state lawmakers to fight against impaired boating and at Guadagno & Virant, PLLC, we want to ensure that you are kept up-to-date on the laws that can affect you.

Implied Consent in the BUI Law

Before this law was put into effect, boaters could fearlessly refuse a breath test. This was unlike a typical DUI, where an individual would certainly have their license revoked for refusing to submit to a chemical test to assess their blood alcohol content (BAC) level. The new “implied consent” law is language added to RCW 79A.60.040. Under this law, anyone who is operating a vessel in any body of water has inherently consented to a breath or blood test.

If the arresting officer has found reasonable grounds to suspect the individual of boating under the influence, they are required to submit to a breath test through a BAC DataMaster testing unit. They do not, however, have to submit to the portable unit that is carried by marine patrols, though they can voluntarily do so. This means, they only have to submit when they are actually arrested. Refusal to submit to a chemical test makes that person guilty of a Class 1 civil infraction, which can result in a $1,000 penalty.

Other Changes to the BUI Law

In addition to adding the “implied consent” portion to the statute, the new law also classifies BUI more harshly than before. This crime is now classified as a gross misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Arrested for BUI? Contact Guadagno & Virant, PLLC

If you or a loved one has been arrested for boating under the influence or refusing to consent to a test, it is essential that you contact an experienced BUI lawyer at once. Every case is unique, and our Seattle criminal defense team can put together a unique strategy on your behalf. Our goal is to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today to schedule your free initial case evaluation!

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