Boating Under The Influence

Roger Priest is a criminal defense attorney in Vancouver WA with extensive courtroom experience in Washington’s DUI laws

dui lawyer vancouver wa breath test

Everyone is familiar with DUI.  But what about a BUI?  Boating Under the Influence is a somewhat common criminal charge in Vancouver Washington and throughout the state thanks to the high number of rivers and lakes throughout the Northwest.  BUI will never rival DUI in the sheer volume of cases, but they aren’t that rare either.  Despite some minor differences, Boating Under the Influence is treated much the same as a DUI under Washington law.  It is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

What Is A Vessel?

Although we often refer to this crime as Boating Under the Influence, the true name of the crime is “Operating of a vessel under the influence” and can be found under RCW 79A.60.040(2).  A “vessel” means any watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water.  However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, sailboards, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers.  This definition still leaves some question as to what constitutes a vessel.  Are kayaks a vessel?  Are paddleboards a vessel?  It is clear that a speedboat would be a vessel because it has all of the power and destructive capability of a car, but do these smaller recreational items constitute a vessel?  Unfortunately, there is not much case law parsing out the corner cases of this law so far, so it is impossible to give an exhaustive list of what watercraft are covered.

Differences Between DUI & BUI

Although a BUI and a DUI are quite similar, there are some key differences.  First, you are not required by law to undertake a breath test.  DUI law requires that suspects submit to a breath test in many circumstances or face automatic revocation of their license.  This is not true in a Boating Under the Influence case.  Because of this, it will almost never be to your benefit to agree to a breath test at the station (or a portable breath test).  This may mean that the officer will seek a warrant to draw your blood, but it is far better to make them go that route than to volunteer potentially incriminating evidence against yourself.

Likewise, there is no driver’s license suspension associated with a Boating Under the Influence charge.  This is crucial for people who perhaps drive for a living or carry a CDL.  This will also help you avoid the often onerous requirement of SR-22 insurance that comes with a DUI.  Likewise, there is no requirement that you obtain an ignition interlock device like in a DUI case.  In the end, this means that a BUI conviction can cost you several thousands of dollars less than a DUI conviction.

Elements Of Boating Under The Influence

Under RCW 79A.60.040(2), it is unlawful for any person to operate a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug.  A person is considered to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, and/or any drug; or, within two hours of operating a vehicle, the person has

  • an alcohol concentration of 0.08 (grams per 210 liters of breath) or higher;
  • a THC concentration of 5.00 (nanograms per milliliter of blood) or higher;

Furthermore, if there is a boating accident where serious bodily injury is sustained, an arresting officer may administer a blood test with either the suspect’s consent, a warrant, or “when exigent circumstances exist.”  Likewise, an arresting officer may administer field sobriety tests where necessary.  These will typically need to be done on dry land because field sobriety tests are required to be on a flat level surface.  Boats on the water create too many issues where balance cannot be properly tested.  Additionally, field sobriety tests may be of dubious usefulness, given that people getting off of a boat typically need an adjustment period before their balance and equilibrium will return to normal.

Call VanWa Legal PLLC For A Free Case Evaluation For Your BUI or DUI Charge

At VanWa Legal PLLC, we have the experience and skill necessary to handle your BUI or DUI case and achieve the best result.  Because BUI investigations are often done by officers with minimal experience in this area, the procedures might not be done correctly, leaving you possible defenses in your case.  It pays to have a DUI attorney with the courtroom experience to best defend your case, so call us today to schedule your free case evaluation today.

If you have been charged with a BUI or DUI in Clark County or Vancouver WA, time is of the essence!

Call our office to speak with Attorney Roger Priest immediately.

(360) 281-7314

BUI & DUI Attorney Services

Roger Priest & staff will help you assess your options when dealing with a DUI charge. We cover the following areas of DUI law in Vancouver:

  • Why you get stopped on a DUI case is often the most important question.  Police often make mistakes when stopping a vehicle, which can lead to the case being dismissed on constitutional grounds.  Only an experienced DUI lawyer can help decide whether the police messed up on your case
  • How the field sobriety tests are conducted are crucial in determining whether they can be used against you in court.  Hiring a DUI defense attorney can lead to suppression of evidence that might otherwise sink your case.
  • DUI Arrest – At the point that an officer makes an arrest for DUI, there must be probable cause for the crime or any later evidence is inadmissible, including a breath or blood test.  It is therefore an important part of an investigation and may be good grounds to find a strong DUI defense.
  • DUI cases are rarely provable without either a scientific test of your breath or blood (or your refusing to provide one).  There are two types of blood tests:  a voluntary blood test or one subject to a search warrant.  The science behind breath and blood testing is complicated, so a strong scientific understanding of the process, science, and laws of such tests is vital.
  • Your first court appearance for DUI is an important part of your DUI case, because it an set the tone for the entire case.  This is where the judge will decide whether you must pay bail, face supervised release monitoring by probation, face conditions of release, and more.  Also, this is where you enter a formal plea to the charge.
  • If a DUI breath or blood test shows your BAC was over 0.08% or you refuse a breath test, the Department of Licensing will try to suspend your driver’s license.  This administrative procedures is separate from your criminal case, but it can still be vitally important in the defense of your case.
  • Following arraignment, this is where the real work begins.  This is where the lawyer demands all fo the prosecutor’s evidence, conducts witness interviews, gathers independent witnesses and experts, strategize with the client, and prepare the case for possible trial.
  • Throughout a DUI case, the parties can make offers and counteroffers.  Often, strong negotiation is a product of having a good working relationship with the prosecutor and doing good discovery work.  The best deals are available for DUI attorneys who have the respect of the prosecution and best prepare the case for trial.
  • Often, DUIs are won or lost in the pretrial motions stage.  This is where knowing the law makes all the difference.  Sometimes, flaws in the police procedures can lead to suppression of evidence or dismissal of the case.  This can make a seemingly bad DUI case is possible winner.  Not only can this help negotiation but it could mean an acquittal at trial.
  • This is where litigators make their name.  A strong trial attorney can make a bad case better and a good case great.  Although having a good trial attorney doesn’t insure you’ll win, the better the litigator the better your chances.
  • Sometimes cases are lost at trial, but there are good reasons to continue fighting.  Trial courts often make mistakes that can be reversed by a higher court.  Not only will this give you the fair trial you deserve, but it can give you a second chance at trial if you win your appeal.

VanWa Legal Is Here To Help

Based in downtown Vancouver WA, we handle DUI charges throughout Clark County, Washington and the surrounding counties.  Call for a consultation if you are facing a DUI charge in any of the following counties or municipalities:

  • Vancouver, Washington
  • Clark County, Washington
  • Battle Ground, Washington
  • Camas, Washington
  • Washougal, Washington
  • Ridgefield, Washington
  • Woodland, Washington
  • Cowlitz County, Washington
  • Skamania County, Washington
  • Stevenson, Washington
  • Lewis County, Washington
  • Klickitat County, Washington
  • Wahkiakum County, Washington

Flat Fee Payment Plans

We offer affordable flat fee pricing on DUI charges and allow for payment plans in many cases.  A DUI lawyer is available for a free consultation seven days a week, so it is easy to enlist the help of an experienced attorney to assist you in your case.  There are never any hidden costs in our fees, so what we quote you is what you pay, regardless of how many court hearings or work is involved to get you the best result in your case.