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Coast Guard Hearings: Another Way to Lose Money on a BUI Arrest

Seafair 2017, BUI Enforcement

Posted by William Kirk, Partner | Aug 03, 2017 | 0 Comments

Can I Lose My Drivers' License if Convicted of a BUI?

While at first glance it would appear the BUIs are just like DUIs, but only on the water, there are several distinctions that are important to discuss and for you to understand.  Specifically, as it relates to the implications on your drivers' license

Washington's Implied Consent Law.

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 at least not in the sense that you can lose your driver's license for a boating offense. However, the legislature has chosen to add language from the implied consent statute in other areas of the law that, which could create additional issues of litigation.  For now, one's driver's license is not at stake if arrested for BUI.  Of course, we 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.  Only the following are exempt from this requirement:

  1. Operators of commercial fishing vessels.
  2. Operators with a United States Coast Guard Marine Operator License.
  3. Operators of exempt vessels.
  4. Operators of rented, leased, or chartered vessels.
  5. An operator who is a resident of another state or country.
  6. An operator who is a resident of another state or country and possesses a valid safety card from that state or country.
  7. A person purchasing a vessel.
  8. 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.16 It would not require a tremendous amount of effort for the Legislature to change this.

So, the short answer to your big question is NO, you cannot lose your drivers license if convicted of a BUI.  You cannot be required to have high risk insurance if convicted of a BUI.  But, you do face potential jail time, expensive fines as well as other personal and professional consequences if convicted of a BUI.  If you have more questions about your BUI case, call us at 425-822-1220. 

13RCW 46.20.308.

15RCW 79A.60.640(3).


About the Author

William Kirk, Partner

Bill Kirk has been named a Super Lawyer by Washington Law and Politics Magazine every year since 2003. He currently serves on the Board of Regents to the National College for DUI Defense and is the President of the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice. Bill is one of only two attorneys in this state to pass the National College's Board Certification Exam.


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