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Washington state park rangers, Fish and Wildlife officers, city police officers, deputy sheriffs, and all other officers with law enforcement authority enforce the boating laws of Washington. The U.S. Coast Guard has enforcement authority on all waters under the jurisdiction of the United States.

Officers have the authority to stop and board your vessel and direct it to a suitable pier or anchorage in order to check for compliance with state and federal laws.

It is illegal to refuse to follow the directive of a person with law enforcement authority. An operator who has received a visual or audible signal from a law enforcement officer must bring his or her vessel to a stop and allow the officer to come alongside.

  • The officer may warn you about a storm or caution you about the way you are operating your vessel.
  • Always remember that a key job of these officers is to ensure your safety on the water.

Vessel Impound Law—Effective 2017

Law enforcement officers now have the authority to impound a vessel when the operator has been arrested for BUI or reckless operation and no one else is available to take control of the vessel. This new law:

  • Requires officers to try to find someone to come and take the vessel to avoid impound.
  • Puts caps on the amounts charged for towing and storage.
  • Sets time limits for redeeming the boat to avoid foreclosure.

The full text of the new law is available online at: