Coming up is Seafair Weekend in Seattle, which is a water, land and air festival at Genesee Park. As with any holiday, this often means partying with alcohol. While you may be well versed in how to prevent drunk driving on the road, you may not know the laws about drunk driving on the lake.
Boating under the influence carries higher risks and penalties than a typical DUI. In addition to suffering property damage and bodily harm, accident victims also face the possibility of drowning. By understanding the laws, you can help to prevent BUI and know what to do in case of an accident.
Washington law on BUI
The laws for BUI apply to all types of boats, whether or not they are motorized. The legal limit for intoxication is the same as it is on land: 0.08 percent blood alcohol content. (For marijuana, it is 5 nanograms.) Officers can request breathalyzer tests on boat operators, and refusing the test results in a Class 1 civil infraction and a fine of $1,000 to $2,050. If convicted, drunk boaters may have to spend up to 364 days in jail and pay a fine of up to $5,000.
Increased risks from BUI
As dangerous as drunk driving is on the road, it is even more dangerous on the water. Impairment of judgment and motor skills from alcohol consumption occurs more quickly due to environmental factors such as sun exposure, dehydration and wave motion. Intoxication also leads to reckless and distracted driving. Furthermore, drivers tend to have less experience with boat operation than with vehicle operation, making the likelihood of an accident even greater.
What to do after an accident
If you become the victim of a boating accident, you can pursue damages with the help of an attorney just as you would in an auto accident. You may be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries, lost income and other consequences of the incident.