The Metropolitan King County Council unanimously passed legislation Sept. 23 giving the King County Sheriff authority to impound vessels of boaters who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The King County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit, which patrols Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, and many other small lakes and rivers, previously did not have express code authority to impound watercraft or vessels belonging to drivers who are boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or upon finding a drifting or unattended vessel.
“Those that operate boats while under the influence of alcohol or drugs present a serious threat to public safety,” said Sheriff John Urquhart. “Councilmember Dembowski and Councilmember Dunn’s ordinance gives the Marine Unit another tool to hold BUI offenders accountable and get our deputies back on the water as soon as possible. I thank them for their leadership on this issue.”
Along with the Mercer Island Marine Patrol and Seattle Harbor Patrol,
the KCSO Marine/Dive Unit is a primary law-enforcement authority on Lake
Washington. The KCSO patrols Lake Washington with a 38-foot aluminum custom built boat powered by twin 420 horsepower diesel engines with jet drives and a 19-foot "Zodiac" rigid hull inflatable is used as a backup vessel and emergency rescue boat on Lake Washington. Last month, the three agencies arrested 34 boaters and fined 15 others on suspicion of BUI over the three day Seafair Weekend, Aug. 2-4, 2013.
Working closely with the King County Sheriff’s office, Councilmembers Rod Dembowski and Reagan Dunn sponsored this legislation to give public safety officials additional authority to protect persons and property.
“There are over 33 miles of shoreline in District 1,” said Dembowski in a news release. “It is imperative that our waters are as safe as possible for recreation, and to do so we have to equip our local public safety officials with the tools necessary to enforce water safety.”
Modeled after the authority given to impound cars of individuals suspected of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, watercraft can be impounded when no other individual is available to safely operate or moor the boat.
Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at
http://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov and type in “2013-0347”