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Enhancing the safety of region’s waterways: Council approves “BUI” ordinance


Dembowski and Dunn sponsor enforcement legislation


The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously passed legislation giving the King County Sheriff authority to impound vessels of boaters who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a necessary tool in enhancing the safety of our region’s waterways.

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.

Working closely with the King County Sheriff’s office, Councilmembers Rod Dembowski and Reagan Dunn sponsored this legislation in an effort give our public safety officials additional authority to protect persons and property.

“There are over 33 miles of shoreline in District 1,” said Dembowski. “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.”

“Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts all those using our waterways at risk,” said Dunn. “This legislation provides the Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit with one more tool to help keep our waters safe for recreational and commercial activities.”

“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.”

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.

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