Boating Under the Influence
Like any criminal charge, if you are arrested for BUI, you will have to go to court and while the stakes are lower than a DUI charge, there will be severe consequences if convicted. In Washington State Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a criminal misdemeanor offense. This means if you are convicted you face a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a 1000.00 fine. Anytime you face the loss of liberty and freedoms experienced legal help is needed.
Operation of a Vessel Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor > RCW 79a.60.040
A BUI case typically involves the use of a breath test machine and sobriety tests to help the State make their case against you, and therefore your attorney should be well versed in those and ready to reveal their limitations. Likewise your BUI lawyer should be very familiar with the breath test machine used in Washington State and extremely familiar with it. Having such an attorney will give you the best chance to preserve your rights and compel a fair resolution of the charge against you. Having said that, it is good to know what a BUI is NOT.
How a BUI Differs from a DUI
A BUI conviction does not require any mandatory jail or fines. A BUI conviction does not carry any driver's licensing consequences. As a result, you cannot lose your license if arrested for, or if you are convicted of BUI. While your driver's license is safe for now, recently the legislature has begun to require an operator's permit for anyone operating a vessel on public waterways. Currently this requirement is based upon the operator's age but given the harsh nature of Washington State DUI laws, it is conceivable that the legislature will, in the near future, connect this license / privilege into arrests and breath testing similar to driving. Additionally, if you possess a Captain's License, a BUI charge and conviction becomes grounds for denial of a re-application of that Captain's License.
A BUI charge or conviction will not result in any mandatory sentence that requires you to have an ignition interlock device (IID) or Ignition Interlock License (IIL) in either your boat or your car. However, if convicted of BUI the judge will have the discretion to make such an order. However, there is no statutory requirement as there has not been a DUI conviction.
If you are arrested for BUI and you refuse a breath or blood test, there is no consequence to your driver's license. In the future, if after reading this, and you find yourself in a situation where a law enforcement officer asks you to perform either "sobriety" tests or a breath test (portable or at the station house) saying "No thanks" will not cause you any legal harm.
While BUI seems like a rather insignificant crime, it is still a crime and will follow you for several years if convicted. As a result, if you are charged with the operation of a vehicle while under the influence you must do everything possible to avoid a conviction.