Boating Offenses


Federal Offenses Involving Boats and Water

In and around places like Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver USA, boat traffic is frequent. Dozens of regulations exist that can turn a fun day on the water into a headache.

Those who operate boats and other watercraft must be mindful of federal enforcement officers who enforce federal law. For example, using a vessel without having on-board safety equipment that is in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard boating safety requirements is an offense that the U.S. Coast Guard enforces.

Although frequently enforced by Washington State law enforcement, boating under the influence (BUI) is another offense that federal officers enforce. Although a BUI is very different and usually not as severe as a DUI, BUI offenses can still result in jail time and alcohol/drug treatment. One can also be charged with a BUI if the vessel operator is operates the vessel in a reckless manner, even if alcohol or drugs are not involved.

Other federal offenses include discharging sewage, oil, or garbage from any vessel or watercraft into a waterway.


There are several penalties to a federal petty offense. Federal boating offenses can result in jail time, fines, and in some cases higher insurance. For some watercraft operators, such as operators who possess a Captain’s License, certain petty offenses and Washington State misdemeanors can result in the loss of a job and denial of re-application for the license.

How Can An Attorney Help?

There are many ways an attorney can help. An attorney with experience in federal court petty offenses can evaluate a petty offense case and review evidence that boat owners and operators do not usually see, and an experienced attorney can find ways to keep out bad evidence in your case to get a dismissal of the offense or create opportunities to keep the offense from affecting your insurance, your job, and even your boat. Discussing your case with an attorney versed in federal petty offenses, at the earliest possible time, is critical to empowering you with information about available options so that you understand what can be done as well as the benefits and risks of those options.

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