Pontoon PFD/DUI Question

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Cruik, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. Cruik

    Cruik Active Member

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    Ok, so I tried to find some kind of information on the internet (and on this site using the search function), but I haven't come up with a straight answer to two questions:

    (1) Is an operator of a pontoon boat required to have a PFD?
    (2) And, can one receive a DUI while operating a pontoon boat?

    Couldn't find anything, so I did a little bit of research, and was wondering if I was off-base, or had possibly missed something.

    RCW 79A.60.040

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a vessel in a reckless manner.

    (2) It shall be a violation for a person to operate a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug. A person is considered to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if:

    (a) The person has 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, as shown by analysis of the person's breath made under RCW 46.61.506; or

    (b) The person has 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the person's blood, as shown by analysis of the person's blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or

    (c) The person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug;


    RCW 79A.60.160
    Personal flotation devices required — Penalty.

    (1) No person may operate or permit the operation of a vessel on the waters of the state without a personal flotation device on board for each person on the vessel. Each personal flotation device shall be in serviceable condition, of an appropriate size, and readily accessible.


    Right, so I know that for a 'vessel' dui's can be issued and PFDs are needed.
    But,


    RCW 79A.60.010
    Definitions.

    (29) "Vessel" includes every description of watercraft on the water, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, sailboards, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers.


    My question is: Does a pontoon constitute a 'vessel'(allowing for DUI and lack of PFD penalties) or is it more akin to the exclusion for "inner tubes, air mattresses, and small rafts?"

    By the way, I don't plan on getting drunk in my pontoon boat with no PFD. I know some of you drink a little on the pontoon and a lot don't have PFDs, but has anyone talked to an enforcement officer?
     
  2. jeff bandy

    jeff bandy Make my day

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    I've seen guys get a verbal warning about not having a PFD. Don't know about the DUI. I would not be surprised if someone could get one. Hell, they give them out for riding a bike drunk.
     
  3. Dave Alberts

    Dave Alberts Member

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    Doesn't common sense suggest that one have a PFD and be sober when on the water...regardless of the "letter" or interpretation of the laws...??
     
  4. scottflycst

    scottflycst Active Member

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    The law does require pontoon boat operaters and passengers to have a PFD available on the boat with them, it's in the fishing regs.
    As far as getting/being drunk or under the influence, primarily speaking, that rule/law is for motorized watercraft. That being said, if any LE observes you drinking or acting under the infleunce they do have the discretion/authority to make sure you don't get behind the wheel of your vehicle.
     
  5. jeff bandy

    jeff bandy Make my day

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    (29) "Vessel" includes every description of watercraft on the water, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, sailboards, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers.

    Do you plan on swimming? No? Then you are required to have one.
     
  6. Cruik

    Cruik Active Member

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    Jeff, I think you hit it for me. I think I was reading the statute as However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, sailboards, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers

    I'm not sure on my canons of interpretation, but I think you're right in saying "customarily used by swimmers" modifies all of the exceptions, though I think it's worded poorly. I guess one could make the argument that if you're wearing waders you're a dry swimmer, but that'd be a stretch.

    Seriously, though I don't plan on being drunk on a pontoon boat, but I have a friend or two who are under 21, the legal limit for them being .02 (about a beer for some)

    And Scott, it's not in the regs, but the RCW states pretty clearly that any operator of a 'vessel' can get a dui, whether or not there's a motor on the thing. Which I guess makes sense; one can do a lot of damage with a sailboat.
     
  7. Bill Aubrey

    Bill Aubrey Active Member

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    I've talked to several officers who claim you have to be wearing the PFD on a pontoon boat, but not necessarily in a float tube. Kinda goofy distinction there. So, where does that leave kickboat guys?

    And, can't you see some guy defending driving (not flying) his seaplane drunk by saying the reg says I can do it; it's not a vessel.
     
  8. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

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    That's hilarious! About the sober part anyway. I carry a PFD in the pocket of my toon. I carry a "water bottle" in the other pocket. I did notice the cops handing out dueys at the boat launch the other day. That was a first.
    You do have to watch out. You drink too much "water" and you just row in circles.
     
  9. Mark Moore

    Mark Moore Just a Member

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    PFD's are required for pontoons, I know 2 people who have gotten tickets for not having them. Whistles are also required.

    I think you would have to be pretty well drunk before LE would push the DUI issue, probably a good bit more drunk than required to get you drowned.

    Bottom line is, Booze and Boats don't mix.
     
  10. Baitfish

    Baitfish Member

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    As a licensed skipper, and with friends in the Marine Detachments, maybe I can shed some light.

    First there is a difference in DUI and BUI (Boating) although the later is generally referred to a Boating DUI. However, the two go hand in hand... Motor or not you cannot get a DUI in a boat, rather a BUI (Boating). As of present you do not need a [driver's] license to operate a boat or vessel privately and this is what separates the two- not having a motor or no motor. Same guidelines apply however, BUI is not as serious. There are many gray areas and defense lawyers love this. (One of the reason we do not hear more about this subject- hard to prosecute.) (I didn't say a word...)

    You'll be hard pressed to get a BUI unless you are acting like an idiot on the water (or have "past tense" i.e., doing donuts, running full throttle through other boats, etc.) or are completely FUBAR. (Reason to board your vessel). In fact, you can have open containers... You are far more likely to get a Drunk in Public ticket. Use common sense and don't be an idiot. Most of us enjoy a cold beverage on the water from time to time.

    PFDs... Other than items "customarily used by swimmers," float tubes, kick boats, pontoons all fall under Personal Water Craft (PWCs). You are required to have a PFD- period!

    I will no longer be without personally wearing a PFD (unless I am on a cruise). I can share two experiences where a PFD would have had different outcomes. First, I had a buddy go over the side in Alaska while we were fishing for chinook commercially. I had no clue he went over while I went to the wheelhouse. I was back on deck within two minutes... I never saw him again, nor did we ever find him. Had he been wearing a PFD... Additionally, I had the misfortune of having the main bladder in a float tube pop on me less than 100-feet from shore. This was during a mid summer day in California.. Despite having a waist belt my waders eventually filled up which made things extremely difficult to stay afloat even with two bladders in the back rest and fins to propel me. Although I was fairly calm, shock nearly overcame me and I barely made it to shore totally exhausted and dehydrated despite being in the best shape of my life (active duty military at the time). . I still spent some time in the hospital getting checked over. Point being... regardless of the extra bladders you are going to struggle to stay afloat with waders on and cold water. TRUST ME! Not to mention you are not going to have time to remove a life jacket from a compartment on a pontoon boat. In fact this will be the last thing you think of and/or you will struggle dearly trying to put it on if you are in trouble. Wear it! Even for those in pontoons, you become amazing weak and perhaps will no longer be able to hang on. Two things with a PFD: (1) you might be able to make it ashore or be saved by another boater, and (2) you'll stay afloat for someone to find you if the outcome is tragic.

    It truly amazes now that I am much wiser that anglers spend a ton of money on gear yet don't wear the most important piece of equipment- a PFD. I wear a Mustang float coat in the winter or suspenders in the summer.
     
  11. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Active Member

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    The "Article 15" for drinkers; "Citation for public intoxication" pretty much covers it.
     
  12. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

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    Whoa!
     
  13. Trout Master

    Trout Master Active Member

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    Whistles required? So if your saying a signaling devise is needed then you would also have to carry flares etc. I dont think so.
     
  14. Mark Moore

    Mark Moore Just a Member

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    Close friend got a $300 + ticket on the Wilson river on the Oregon Coast. It may be an Oregon statute but either way I keep one on my vest. It is cheap insurance, in a boat or in the woods.
     
  15. themaninthemoon

    themaninthemoon Just waiting on warmer weather, .......

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    Hi to everyone,
    I'm reading these Q's & A's to the original two Q that Cruik asked about.

    Really?

    And feel that I've just gotta ask you, if, or when, do you apply common sense to any given situation be it out on the water or on dry land?
    Do you really need a friggin "law" to get you motivated to apply common sense?
    C'mon, ....think about the 2 Q's, & what you are asking?

    I've only heard of one guy that could "walk the walk", & turn the water into wine, but hey if you're livin' the the life of JC, & can walk upon the water, could you also take a moment to sign an autograph, (it's not for me, of course, it's for my dear old Mother, sweet saintly woman that she is, ....), & possibly feed the multitudes on the hill, & maybe the next hill too? ......

    Please?
    LOLOLOLOLOLOL,
    Here is a rule I use, (& if you follow it, you'll have a lot more fun being at ease out there, wherever life takes you, be it in the woods, on the water, wherever! Capish? Verstang es das?), ready for this?
    Safety 1st!
    No if's &'s, or but's about it either.
    Nuff said?
    Hoosier friend?
     
  16. Slipstream

    Slipstream Active Member

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    Cruik, http://www.parks.wa.gov/boating/ has boater information about your pontoon boat (aka vessel) and life jackets. The local WDFW enforcement officer was at our TU meeting last night and I asked him about life jackets. He said you must have a life jacket on your pontoon boat while you are on the water. Some inflatable life jackets must be worn to be in compliance with the law. He also said that a life jacket was not required if you are in a float tube. SS
     
  17. bennysbuddy

    bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

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    .( Whistles are also required.)

    I carry a hand gun , Will that meet the signal devise requirerment!
     
  18. Cruik

    Cruik Active Member

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    Hmmm. Ok, that all makes sense. Except for maybe why they aren't required for float tubers. Now I just gotta figure out where the heck I'm going to attach my life jacket....and my whistle....I guess. But once I do that, it'll be smooth sailing for me and my buddy Jack D.....or three pontoons to the wind with Captain M. Just kidding.
     
  19. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    The best and easiest thing to attach your life jacket to is your chest!
     
  20. Brian Miller

    Brian Miller Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout

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    iagree

    Even on Class I/II water I always wear a good Type III PFD with a whistle and a river knife attached to the chest gear tabs. On stillwater I use an inflatable collar. Didn't know about the whistle requirement. Guess I'll have to think of an easy way to attach a whistle to the collar.