Spokane BUI Lawyer – Boating Under the Influence

If you have been arrested for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in or around Spokane, contact us right away.

Retaining a knowledgeable and experienced BUI defense lawyer can turn a case around while protecting your liberty, job and future.

We also handle cases in Northern Idaho.

BUI in Washington

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s recreational boating statistics, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths. Washington boating under the influence (BUI) laws apply to all types of boats whether they’re powered by a motor, oars or a paddle. The most common causes of boating accidents have been determined to be:

  • Operator distraction
  • Operator inattention
  • Collisions with other boats or stationary objects
  • Failure to keep a proper lookout
  • Falling overboard
  • Operator inexperience

Pursuant to RCW 79A.60.040, the legal limit in Washington is a .08 blood alcohol content for operating a boat under the influence. The limit for operating a boat under the influence of marijuana is 5.0 nanograms. Passengers aren’t prohibited from consuming alcoholic beverages while aboard. A boat operator can be convicted of BUI even if he or she is under the .08 or 5.0 limits, but it must be shown that their ability to operate the craft was impaired.


Municipal police, the Washington State Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard can enforce BUI laws anywhere in the State of Washington. According to the Boating Program of the Washington State Parks, a conviction for a violation of Washington’s BUI law is a gross misdemeanor. It’s punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $5,000. That said, arrests on Medical Lake, Clear Lake, Silver Lake, Spokane River, Long Lake, Liberty Lake, Lake Hayden, Hauser Lake, and the Harrison Slough are often performed by local police.

What to do if you’re stopped

A law enforcement officer who has reasonable cause to believe that a person operating a boat might be under the influence or alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two can ask that operator to submit to waterside testing. Like roadside testing in a DUI stop, the operator isn’t required to submit to any of those tests. Those include field sobriety tests when the law enforcement officer might sound as if he or she is demanding or commanding testing. Listen carefully, and he or she is only asking for testing. Politely refuse those tests. There are no consequences to refusing waterside tests, but if blood alcohol testing at the station is refused, there will be civil consequences.

Refusing BUI testing

There won’t be any impact on the boater’s license to operate a motor vehicle, but he or she can expect to be cited with a Class 1 civil infraction. That infraction is punishable with a civil penalty of up to $1,000 and court costs of $1,050. Unless you haven’t consumed any alcohol or ingested any marijuana, it’s recommended that you don’t perform field sobriety or any other type of sobriety or drug testing. If you do submit to testing, you’re likely giving the law enforcement officer who stopped you more reasons to place you under arrest. You’re also giving a prosecutor more evidence to convict you with. Your performance on waterside testing will likely be recorded and shown to a jury. Politely refuse any testing whatsoever without a search warrant. Whether you comply with all test requests or not, your boat is probably going to be towed to an impound facility anyway.

Contact a Spokane BUI Lawyer

You don’t want to be under the thumb of law enforcement, a prosecutor or the courts under any circumstances. Just because a BUI doesn’t carry the same consequences as a DUI doesn’t mean that that you don’t need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney at your side who will require the prosecution to prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. A BUI conviction will likely require compliance of the same sentencing conditions as a DUI. It just doesn’t have the same penalties.

Don’t give the prosecution the evidence it needs to convict you with. Unless you haven’t been drinking or used marijuana, don’t take any tests, and call us right away. Protect and preserve your rights. Without a search warrant, law enforcement can’t make you take any tests at all on a BUI. You may have felt intimidated when law enforcement stopped you and later charged you with BUI, but defenses and alternatives exist. Retaining a knowledgeable and experienced BUI defense lawyer can turn a case around while protecting your liberty, job and future. Contact us right away after any BUI arrest for a free case consultation and evaluation. We’ll give you the best BUI defense that you can get.

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