June 24, 2013 – Washington marine law enforcement agencies will participate in a national special emphasis campaign June 28, 29 and 30, to cite people who are operating boats while under the influence of alcohol – also known as BUI.
The campaign, called Operation Dry Water, is a coordinated effort to heighten enforcement and awareness. The goal of Operation Dry Water is to prevent injury and death in accidents resulting from people consuming alcohol or drugs while operating boats.
According to Washington State Parks Boating Programs, between 2007 and 2013, at least 39 people were killed in reportable boating accidents where alcohol use was a contributing factor. The emphasis patrol weekend is aimed at raising awareness of the problem and getting impaired boat operators off the water by actively enforcing the law that prohibits using alcohol and drugs while operating a boat.
The Washington state emphasis is supported by the Washington State Parks Boating Programs. All 56 states, trusts and territories of the U.S. are expected to participate in the emphasis. Boat operators may be cited if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds the state limit of .08.
“Driving or operating a boat of any kind under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious problem that can result in a boating fatality,” said Lt. Rodney Rochon with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. “All boaters have the right to enjoy their time on the water and have fun. This campaign provides education and enforcement for the safety of those boaters and is focused on zero tolerance for boat operators who are under the influence.”
Rochon stated that reducing the use of alcohol and drugs by boat operators is crucial to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating. According to the 2012 U.S. Coast Guard statistics, boating under the influence is still the leading factor in fatal boating accidents, with 17 percent of boating fatalities a direct result of alcohol use by the operator.
According the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division, alcohol can be more dangerous to boaters because boat operators are often less experienced and less confident on the water than on the highway.
“Since recreational boaters don’t have the benefit of experiencing daily boat operation, operating a boat while under the influence is just as important to public safety as the enforcement of driving under the influence laws,” Rochon contends. “We want boaters to recognize the effects and consequences of alcohol use while boating. In a boat on the water, consuming one beer is equivalent to drinking three beers on land because the external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun.”
For more information on the national Operation Dry Water campaign, visit http://www.operationdrywater.org/