More patrols on Lake Washington during Seafair weekend

by: Maria Guerrero Updated:


SEATTLE - It’s going to be a big weekend for boating.

The weather combined with the Blue Angels means a lot of people will be on Lake Washington for Seafair. But bigger crowds mean a bigger chance of drunken boaters.

That’s why multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies are partnering up for a three-day emphasis on enforcing laws against BUI, boating under the influence.

"We're expecting a pretty huge crowd," said Comdr. Leslie Burns with the Mercer Island Police Department.

Multiple law enforcement agencies will be out on Lake Washington, too.

On their radar: boaters suspected of BUI.

"You need to be completely sober, with all of your faculties intact in order to operate your boat safely in this small, confined area with a whole bunch of boaters out here," said Burns.

New laws went into effect last year making BUIs a gross misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail. Like DUI, the legal blood alcohol limit for BUI is 0.08 percent.

The highest number of BUI arrests reported during previous Seafair weekends was 110 in 2009.

 Last year 67 people were arrested.

"If we don't have a large number of arrests we can say that everything we've done the last several years with the aggressive enforcement has paid off," said Burns.

And that's not all. Law enforcement officers are also going to be stopping hundreds of boats this weekend making sure you're following all of the laws out on the water.

"You got your driver’s license? The registration for the boat and if you have your boater's education card?" asked officer Robb Kramp.

The Fenick family, of Sammamish, passed its safety inspection.

Back on land, officers are prepped for the days ahead.

Suspected drunken boaters will be processed at the command post on Mercer Island.

"It's going to be great weather, hopefully a great time for everybody. The biggest thing about it is in order for that to be successful, make that responsible choice to operate your boat safely, and that includes operating it sober," said Trooper Karim Boukabou.

If a boater is cited for boating under the influence, the boater will have a court date and the judge will decide how much the ticket will be for.

Again, it could be up to $5,000.