So how do you get stopped for a BUI?
With all the recent changes in Boating under the influence (BUI) laws, and the increase in patrols here in King County due to the SeaFair a lot of people have questions. Probably the most common question I hear is how can the police or coast guard pull me over. In your typical DUI case most people get pulled over for some kind of traffic infraction, or getting into a car accident. A BUI in King County is no different. Here are the most common ways to get stopped for a BUI.
The most common reason I see on why an boater was pulled over is for a violation of RCW 79A.60.140 Personal flotation devices. Basically no person may operate a vessel unless there is a personal flotation device for every person on the boat. Additionally any child under the age of 12 must always wear the personal flotation device with a few exceptions.
Probably the second most common reason I see for contact by law enforcement or the coast guard when it comes to vessels is a failure to maintain equipment on the boat. For example under RCW 79A.60.120 discusses vessel lights and signals. Often times the lights are altered or removed, or they are not in proper working order. Both of these are citations and can lead to law enforcement contacting the operator of the vessel.
Another common reason to get contacted and subsequently arrested for a BUI is operating a vessel in a negligent manner. RCW 79A.60.030 covers this. Its a pretty vague definition of what is negligent. But essentially speeding or not considering the wake a vessel leaves behind fall into this category. When the weather nice and there are lots of boats on the water including personal watercrafts like jetskis. An operator needs to be especially careful because any action that can be considered a disregard of careful operation is a reason to get stopped.
And lastly be careful when it comes to water skiing safety. RCW 79A.60.170 goes over all the requirements that need to be followed regarding water skiing. Something as small has not having the correct size and color of flag can be a reason to get pulled over.
With all the changes in BUI laws in Washington state, and the various reasons one could get stopped it is important to not drink and operate a vessel, especially in King County. I know boating and having a cold brew goes together like fireworks and the 4th of July. Heck I remember growing up and my Grandpa always having a cold one on his boat. Well 2013 is not 1985. Things have changed and having a few cold beers on your boat on a hot summer day is really not acceptable anymore.