Police and workers of the Washington State Ferry System have reported an increase in the number of people riding ferries while under the influence of alcohol. In 2019, there have been 16 such incidents. Ferry boat DUIs lead to sailing delays and canceled travel, inconveniencing other drivers trying to get to their destinations.
Ferry Boat Situations that Could Lead to DUI Charges
How can a person be arrested for a DUI if they're riding a ferry and not operating a vehicle on the road?
There are two different scenarios that answer that question. First, if a person drinks an alcoholic beverage while waiting for a ferry, they are violating Washington's DUI law. The person behind the wheel must drive their vehicle to get from the line to the vessel.
Second, a person might not be drinking before they board the ferry, but they start consuming alcohol once on it. According to RCW 47.39.020, the Washington State Ferry System is a part of the scenic and recreational highway system, which means this type of conduct violates both the state's DUI law, as well as the open container statute. Under RCW 46.61.519, it is illegal for a person to drink alcohol or to have an open bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains alcohol while in a car that's on a highway.
Eventually, the individual must drive off the ferry, which means, even if they weren't operating a vehicle while traveling to their next stop, they are once the vessel docks. Troopers waiting at the other end can arrest those drivers for being intoxicated.
Ferry workers reported that there had been two people passed out in their vehicles after consuming alcohol on the vessel. One individual was holding a can of beer in their hand. After the ferry docked, the drivers were arrested for DUI.
Increase in Trooper Patrol at Ferry Docks
Officials say that when there are special events or holidays, they see more ferry boat DUIs. Because of this, police presence increases around docks.
Arrested for a DUI? Call the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC
Being charged with driving under the influence can be a frightening experience, as the conviction penalties could have serious ramifications on your life. I, Mark W. Garka, am here to provide the skilled legal defense you need to fight charges. I know that people are sometimes falsely accused of committing this offense, and I will thoroughly review your case to challenge the allegations.
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