Designated skipper

Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol and drugs is not only unsafe—it’s illegal. Washington state’s boating-under-the-influence (BUI) law applies to all boats include kayaks, canoes, row boats and inflatable fishing rafts.

If you own, rent or operate a borrowed boat, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of everyone on board. Never operate a boat under the influence or allow an intoxicated person to operate the boat. Be sure to check any prescription and non-prescription drugs for side effects that could impede your ability to be alert!

Do everyone a favor, always designate a sober skipper. Take the pledge today!

Keep everyone safe

Boating under the influence is dangerous to everyone on the water. Wind, sun, noise, motion and vibration can amplify the effects of alcohol and marijuana. Boats don’t have the same safety features as cars, such as airbags and seat belts. When someone is involved in a car accident, they are not normally faced with the threat of drowning. Emergency response may not be nearly as quick on the water as on land. To be as safe as possible, passengers are encouraged to stay sober, too.

  1. BUI dangers
  2. BUI penalties
  3. BUI fact sheet
  4. Operation Dry Water

Operating a boat under the influence is not safe for you, passengers and other people on the water. You put everyone at risk if you choose to go boating while impaired. Operating a boat under the influence increases the likelihood of an accident and lowers the chance of survival after an accident.

Boating under the influence affects:

  • Vision
    • Impairs the ability to see clearly and affects peripheral view and depth perception, increasing the chance of a tragic accident.
  • Balance & coordination
    • Decreases balance and coordination, increasing the odds of falling overboard.
    • Arm and leg coordination decreases, making it difficult to put on a life jacket and/or swim.
    • Lowers the concentration of blood going to the brain and muscles, contributing to muscle, heat and fluid loss, as well as reduced ability to hold breath.
  • Judgement
    • Impairs decision-making and gives a false sense of the situation.
    • Increases the likelihood of attempting tasks beyond a person's ability and engaging in risky behaviors.
    • Affects the ability to take actions that prevent tragic accidents.
  • Reaction time
    • Slows down reaction time, increasing the risk of collision or other types of accidents.
    • Suppresses airway-protection reflexes, making it more likely to inhale water when falling in or capsizing.