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Alcohol and Drugs

Washington law prohibits anyone from boating under the influence (BUI). This means operating any vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (alcohol) or any drug.

Laws for Operating a Boat Under the Influence (BUI)

Washington law states that a person is boating under the influence if he or she:

  • Has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight or
  • Exceeds the legal limit for boating under the influence of marijuana of 5.0 nanograms, which is consistent with Initiative 502 that made recreational use of marijuana legal or
  • Is under the influence of or affected by alcohol and/or any drug.

Washington law establishes the following penalties for boating under the influence (BUI).

  • A BUI conviction is a gross misdemeanor with a penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and/or 364 days in jail.
  • Officers with probable cause can ask the boat operator to submit to a breathalyzer test. If the operator refuses to take the test, he or she will be issued a Class 1 Civil Infraction.
    • The maximum penalty for refusing to take a breathalyzer test is $1,000. With the public safety and education assessment added, the total fine could be up to $2,050.
    • An operator’s refusal cannot be used as evidence in a subsequent criminal trial.
  • If someone dies or is seriously injured as the result of another person boating while intoxicated, the convicted person also may be charged with a felony, punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional institution and a substantial fine.
Boating under the influence arrest