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Tougher penalties face boaters over the limit

boatsSeattle — Police say boating and boozing is a big problem, but a new law that takes effect soon will keep families safe on the water.

As summer break begins, folks hit the water to unwind. The season has just begun and so far boaters are obeying the law.

“It’s starting to get busy out there but so far no major incidents everybody’s having a good time and being safe for the most part,” said Sgt. Jim Robarge with the Mercer Island Police Department.

But every year police respond to a number of boating accidents where alcohol is a contributing factor. According to national safety statistics, a third of all boating fatalities involve alcohol.

A new law is set to take effect this summer designed will keep families safe while on the water in Washington. Beginning July 28th, the penalty for boating under the influence is will change from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor.

“While it’s not illegal to drink on a boat it is illegal to operate a boat while impaired just as it would be in a car and we strongly encourage people to approach it the same way they would on the road, have a designated skipper,” said Robarge.

Like the road, the legal limit on the water is .08. If you are busted for boating under the influence you could now face up to a year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Officers want boaters to have fun but do it responsibly.

4 comments

  • pete1427

    The fines, and imprisonment for marine vessel DUI seem to be much higher
    than that of currently imposed penalties for a DUI motor vehicle driver on the
    road.
    The real and actual enforcement DUI laws on our roads would save thousands
    of lives nationwide per year. These new DUI penalties for boaters, are not
    going to save as many lives as keeping DUI drivers off our roads. How many
    times have we read of DUI drivers on our roads killing innocent victims, many
    of which have been cited for DUI driving multiple times.
    My guess is that deaths caused by DUI boating are much less than 1% of those
    caused by DUI motorist on our roads, but time after time the individuals found
    guilty of DUI on our roads are back on our roads quickly.
    The police catching DUI drivers on our roads is made more futile by the courts
    catch and release actions. Our courts treat DUI drivers on our roads much like
    a law abiding sportsman treats a wild Chinook (King) salmon caught in lower
    Puget Sound, i.e. catch and release.

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