Sobering Seafair trend on the lake
Thirty-four people were cited for boating under the influence on Lake Washington this weekend, down more than 40 percent from last year.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Thirty-four people were cited for boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) during the Seafair events on Lake Washington last weekend, according to the Washington State Patrol.
That’s a drop of more than 40 percent from last year’s Seafair BUI total, 61.
Seafair officials said attendance was down from last year with the absence of the Blue Angels playing a big role. Since it’s an open festival, exact numbers weren’t available, but ticket sales at the log boom were down 20 percent, said Melissa Jurkin, Seafair’s director of marketing and communications.
“That doesn’t mean everybody that bought tickets showed up, though,” she said.
The State Patrol, along with city, county and federal agencies, participated in an impaired-boating emphasis from Friday through Sunday.
Police contacted 473 boats, down 32 percent from last year’s event, and doled out 42 citations for speeding or unsafe lane changes, among other infractions. Medical assistance was called for four boaters.
Of those contacted, 15 refused breath tests, which under a new law is an infraction carrying a fine of $2,050.
Of the 34 charged with BUIs, four were booked and taken to jail; the others were pulled over and told to have someone come pick them up.
Four search warrants were served for blood samples, and one warrant for search of a vessel resulted in a drug arrest. Police also seized two handguns from boaters over the weekend, one of which was found to have been stolen.
According to the State Patrol, boating under the influence is similar to DUI: The legal blood-alcohol limit is 0.08 percent, or under the influence and/or affected by drugs. In addition, new BUI laws that went into effect last month include:
• BUI changed from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail.
• Law enforcement is now able to require operators suspected of BUI to take a breath or blood test.
• Law enforcement now has the authority to issue citations to vessel operators during the investigation of collisions/accidents they did not witness, thus holding negligent and reckless boaters more accountable.
Colin Campbell: 206-464-2033 or email@example.com. On Twitter @cmcampbell6