New law means tougher penalties for drunk boating offenders

Tri-City HeraldMay 17, 2013 

— A Senate Bill signed by Governor Jay Inslee aims to crack down on boaters operating under the influence.

The law changes will mean stricter penalties for boaters operating under the influence and more authority for marine law enforcement.

After the changes go into effect July 28, boating under the influence will be a gross misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 364 days in jail, according to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Currently, a BUI is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and 90 days in jail.

Senate Bill 5437, which was signed Thursday, requires boat operators to take a breath or blood test if officers believe the person is under the influence. If the person refuses, a $1,000 fine could be handed down.

The changes also give officers the ability to write citations for accidents they did not witness and arrest operators who caused accidents by breaking the boating safety laws.

Boating safety laws will mirror the language in Initiative 502, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana, according to the Commission.

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