Perhaps of greatest joy to both the boater and the attorney challenged with
defending one accused of BUI is that at the current time, the legislature has not associated these charges with Washington's Implied Consent Law.13 This provides relief for the boater because their driver's license will not be subject to a civil hearing in which a DOL hearing officer will summarily suspend your client's drivers' license based solely upon allegations contained in a police report. Of course the defense bar cannot reasonably expect this separation to remain for long. As efforts annually increase at detecting and arresting impaired boaters, so too will the severity of the punishment both criminally and civilly.
In recent years, Washington State has required “Boater Safety Cards” for all operators. It is only a matter of time before a suspension and/or revocation of this permit is mandated by law similar to that mandated for drivers of cars pursuant to the Implied Consent Law. As of this writing in June 2012, Washington is phasing in the Boater Safety Card requirement, so that by 2015, all operators will need to possess one. The only individuals that will be exempted from this requirement include:
- Operators of commercial fishing vessels.
- Operators with a United States Coast Guard Marine Operator License.
- Operators of exempt vessels.
- Operators of rented, leased, or chartered vessels.
- An operator who is a resident of another state or country.
- An operator who is a resident of another state or country and possesses a valid safety card from that state or country.
- A person purchasing a vessel.
- A person who is not yet required to have a card.15
Currently, the State Web site pertaining to Boater Safety Cards states that once you receive the card, it is yours for your lifetime and cannot be taken away from you. It would not require a tremendous amount of effort for the Legislature to change this.
See: RCW 46.20.308, RCW 79A.60.640., RCW 79A.60.640(3).