27 December, 2021

We are all familiar with the consequences of drinking and driving. If you drive under the influence of alcohol, you risk getting a DUI charge 

However, can you get a DUI on a boat? Do the same rules apply when you are on a paddleboat and a large boat? The short answer is yes, you can. 

What Counts as DUI on a Boat?

Washington state defines DUI on a boat as operating a vehicle for water travel with 0.08% or more blood alcohol level.  

Just like alcohol can hinder a driver’s ability to drive a car, the same applies when someone is behind the wheel of a small or large boat. When a boat is involved, the act is referred to as BUI or Boating Under the Influence

can you get a dui on a boat


Can You Get a DUI on a Boat: Penalties and Consequences for Boating Under Influence 

Operating a boat while intoxicated is a federal offense. The penalties and charges for a DUI on a boat can become serious, especially if it is a repeat offense or someone is hurt (or worse) during the process. If you get caught driving a boat under the influence, the following can occur: 

  •     The police can pull you over
  •     They can arrest you if you are over the legal limit 
  •     You may be fined
  •     You could lose your boating license 
  •     It can impact your insurance or driving record
  •     They can seize your boat

In Washington, DUI violations are subject to a penalty of up to $5,000.  

How Long is a Sentence for DUI on a Boat?

If you’ve been charged with BUI in Washington state, you are facing misdemeanor penalties.  

The defendant may get a jail sentence of six months to one year and up to two years of probation. 

Can You Get a DUI on a Paddle Boat?

The legal limit for alcohol in your blood while driving a paddle boat is the same as the limit for driving a car or any other vehicle.  

That means that you can’t legally use a kayak, canoe, rowboat, fishing raft, or paddleboard with alcohol in your blood of 0.08% in Washington state. 

Who Monitors DUI on a Boat?

If you are driving a boat on open water in Washington, you come under federal and state law jurisdiction. It means that the state police, local police, and the National Coast Guard may pull you over and enforce the Washington BUI laws. 

Safety Tips for Avoiding DUI on a Boat

According to the Coast Guard, alcohol is more dangerous when driving a boat than driving a car. The high temperatures and warm weather can significantly affect how your body and mind react to alcohol.  

Here are some tips to consider to avoid getting a DUI when operating a boat:

  •     Pack non-alcoholic drinks
  •     Drive carefully; there may be swimmers or other drivers who have been drinking 
  •     Use life jackets
  •     Wear comfortable and light-colored clothing to stay cool 

Can you get a DUI on a boat? According to Washington law, yes, you can.  

Boating is a fun activity, but sometimes, even if you follow the rules, others won’t, and accidents may happen. If you or your loved one has been charged with BUI, contact Leyba Defense PLLC in Bellevue, Washington, for a free consultation.  

Contact us via our online form or call our team at 206-258-6049.