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State patrol launches impaired boating emphasis for Seafair weekend, begins this Friday

The Washington State Patrol and other agencies are preparing for the annual impaired boating campaign as part of the upcoming Seafair activities on Lake Washington this weekend.

From Aug. 2-4, city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies will converge in an effort to improve water safety through impaired boating enforcement.

The staging area for the event will be at Proctor Landing on Mercer Island, the same as previous years.

The Washington State Patrol Mobile Impaired Driving Unit, temporary detention facilities and prisoner support vehicles will be available to assist in the processing of boaters suspected of boating under the influence, referred to as “BUI,” or other crimes involved with unsafe usage of watercraft.

Boating under the influence is similar to driving under the influence, or DUI, in that the legal limit is 0.08 for blood alcohol content.

New “BUI” laws that recently went into effect include:

  • Boating under the influence becomes a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail.
  • Law enforcement will be able to require operators suspected of BUI to take a breath or blood test.
  • Law Enforcement will have the authority to issue citations to vessel operators during the investigation of collisions and accidents they did not witness, thus holding negligent and reckless boaters more accountable.

Officers at previous Seafair “BUI” emphasis weekends arrested 83 people boating under the influence in 2008, 110 in 2009, 59 in 2010 with 463 vessels contacted, 70 arrests in 2011 with 536 vessels contacted and 61 people boating under the influence in 2012 with 693 vessels contacted.

 

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