State patrol to crack down on drunk Seafair boaters

One of the largest impaired boating emphasis operations in the nation is being organized by the Washington State Patrol's Impaired Driving Section to focus on this year's Seafair activities on Lake Washington from Aug. 2-5.

Since Lake Washington is considered an inner coastal waterway that connects to Puget Sound, it is under federal jurisdiction. Coast Guard vessels will be two of the 13 law enforcement boats scheduled to participate in the operation.

Officers will be focusing on:

DRINKING AND BOATING — Vessel operators who are charged with boating under the influence by local law enforcement officers will face criminal charges similar to driving under the influence, which will be filed into the King County District Court, Redmond Division.

Boaters charged with boating under the Influence by the Coast Guard will face much stiffer civil penalties, which range from $1,000 to $5,000. A failure to pay these federal fines will result in a forfeiture of the vessel and may require an appearance in federal court located in San Diego, Calif.

SPEEDING — The portion of Lake Washington that is located 100 yards north of, and all the water south of, the I-90 floating bridge has been deemed a "no wake zone" by the Coast Guard. This restriction will limit all vessels to a speed of less than 7 miles per hour and no wake. A violation of this federal statute will result in a civil infraction of $86.

Last year during the Seafair weekend, 480 vessels were contacted resulting in 132 boating under the influence arrests, 55 DUI arrests, and 62 minor in possession arrests. No major boating collisions occurred.

It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 boats could participate in this years event. The number of attendees could exceed 350,000 and is deemed the highest attended summer event in Seattle.[[In-content Ad]]