VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Penalties for boating under the influence just increased in a big way in Washington state.
Not only have fines for BUI shot up five-fold, from $1,000 to $5,000, but if a marine deputy asks for a boater to blow into a breathalyzer and he or she refuses, that person will be fined.
If they refuse to provide that breath sample, now we can ticket them with a $1,000 civil penalty, said Todd Baker a marine deputy with the Clark County Sheriff's Department.
According to Washington state park data, alcohol is a factor in just over 30 percent of boating fatalities.
Prior to Sunday, Washington's BUI law was not very tough.
Boating under the influence was just a misdemeanor. You could compare that to trespassing or theft of a shopping cart. But now it's a gross misdemeanor with serious consequences, said Baker.
The law also gives marine officers the ability to issue citations for boating accidents. It's authority they've always had on land, but now also have it on the water.
The law was also updated to include marijuana references. If a blood test shows someone is over the legal limit of THC, he or she will get slapped with boating under the influence, just like if the person was drunk.