Law enforcement agencies will take to the water this weekend looking for impaired boaters during the annual Seafair activities on Lake Washington.
The Washington State Patrol, along with city, county and federal agencies, will participate in the Impaired Boating Emphasis from Friday through Sunday during the hydroplane races and airshow. During last year’s emphasis patrols, officers made a total of 61 arrests for boating under the influence (BUI); and 70 arrests in 2011.
According to the State Patrol, boating under the influence is similar to DUI: the legal limit is .08 or under the influence and/or affected by drugs. In addition, new BUI laws that went into effect on Sunday include:
— BUI changed from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail;
— Law enforcement is now able to require operators suspected of BUI to take a breath or blood test;
— Law enforcement now has the authority to issue citations to vessel operators during the investigation of collisions/accidents they did not witness, thus holding negligent and reckless boaters more accountable.