Consequences of a BUI

Charges of boating under the influence (BUI) are based on the Revised Code of Washington (RWC) Title 79A Section 60.040: “Operation of [recreational] vessel in a reckless manner, etc. Any person found operating a recreational vessel while under the influence of alcohol or any drug, whether legal or illegal, is violating this subsection of the RWC and may be charged with a misdemeanor.”

BUI is established much in the same way as driving under the influence. A person operating a boat or similar vessel in a reckless manner may be called upon to stop by an authorized person, and if there is probable cause such as the smell of liquor on the breath, may be ordered to undergo a field sobriety test if possible. The detaining officer may also request the boat operator to take a breath or blood test. A person may be charged with BUI if results show:

  • .08 or higher alcohol content as determined in a breath or blood test
  • Affected by alcohol or drug or combination of both while operating a vessel

The penalties for BUI are detailed under Title 9 Section 92 subsection 30 of the RCW which states that a person convicted for BUI shall be incarcerated in the county jail for no more than 90 days or fined a maximum of $1,000, or both, as mandated by the court. The defendant may also be liable for any injuries or damages that resulted from the offense , and may be made to pay restitution by the court.

There are no statutes specifying additional penalties for repeat offenders of BUI, unlike DUI which escalates into a felony with succeeding convictions. Moreover, there is no accompanying suspension of license as boat operators are not required to have one. However, a conviction for BUI should be avoided as it is still a criminal offense. A BUI lawyer should be consulted in the event of a BUI charge.

3 Responses to “Consequences of a BUI”

  1. I wonder if BUI charges extend to other types of water-craft, such as jet skis? Very nice article — I had never heard of BUI charges before.

  2. This was interesting!

  3. Hach & Rose says:

    Law is always so puzzling to me, thanks for making sense of it.

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