Joseph Dalrymple of Renton was one of 554 boaters contacted by police this Seafair weekend. He was also one of 71 boat operators arrested over the Seattle-area holiday.
What makes Dalrymple and his boat stand out, however, is that it was stopped twice by police that weekend. Just four hours after Dalrymple was arrested, Thomas Hutchison of Newcastle was arrested for driving the same vessel while under the influence. Police realized this while processing Hutchison, who stated that the registered owner of the boat had been arrested for boating under the influence (BUI) earlier in the day, according to a statement from the Washington State Patrol.
Police checked their records for earlier stops and realized that Hutchison's tip checked out.
Dalrymple, the registered owner, was stopped for a “No Go Zone” violation at 1:30 p.m., and Hutchison caught the eye of law enforcement for traveling too fast in a “No Wake Zone" at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7.
Both men were booked into King County Jail. In addition to the 554 boats contacted, 71 BUI arrests were made and three minors were charged with a "Minor in Possession."
Despite all the arrests, or maybe because of them, Lake Washington is much safer for boaters during Seafair weekend than it used to be, said Trooper Cliff Pratt.
"It used to be pretty lawless at times," he said, "but now we're seeing a shift."
Pratt credits the multiple police agencies who participate in Seafair weekend water patrols for the decrease in accidents and BUI arrests.
"Before we had this (program), it was a madhouse," he said.
But why was Dalrymple's boat back on the water after his arrest? Pratt said the vessel was released to a sober woman who was also on board; however, she apparently handed the boat off to Hutchison, who was later arrested for BUI. Neither she nor another sober driver were on board during the second stop, so the boat was impounded, Pratt said.
Unlike the new DUI impound law, that, with few exceptions, requires a 12-hour hold at the towing company before an impounded vehicle can be released, there is no law mandating a hold on a watercraft following a BUI arrest. BUI impounds are treated differently because they are under Coast Guard regulations, not state law.
"There is no state law that says there is a mandatory hold," Pratt said of boat impounds. There's also no Coast Guard law that requires officers to impound the boat if there's a sober driver available to take over the boat. Similarly, there is no rule outlining how long the boat must be held before the registered owner can pick it up.
There likely won't be a law about boat holds anytime soon, he added, unless sometime takes it to the Legislature.
The multi-agency emphasis (also known as the Impaired Operator Emphasis) that included the Mercer Island Police Marine Patrol, Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Seattle Police & Harbor Patrol, King County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, United States Coast Guard, and the Washington State Patrol finished its work at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8.