News Release 11-026
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
1111 Israel Road S.W., P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650, (360) 902-8500
Don Hoch, Director
Mark Kenny: (360) 902-8835
Lynn Satre: (360) 902-8837
Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service: (800) 833-6388
Zero Tolerance for Boating Under the Influence
Jun. 14, 2011 –
Washington law enforcement officers will be out in force June 24, 25 and 26 for Operation Dry Water, an annual campaign to detect and enforce boating under the influence (BUI) laws on the state's waterways.
The campaign focuses on preventing accidents, injuries and deaths resulting from people abusing alcohol or drugs while operating boats. According to Washington State Parks Boating Programs, since 2004, alcohol was a factor in at least 30 percent of the 169 people killed in boating accidents, including 3 of the 8 boating deaths so far in 2011.
The primary goal of this nationwide effort is to detect and stop boating while impaired. A secondary objective is to raise awareness among all boaters that it is unsafe, as well as illegal, to operate a boat under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
During the June 2010 campaign, law enforcement officers from 50 states and six territories made contact with 66,472 recreational boaters, made 322 BUI arrests and issued 4,171 citations and 7,522 warnings for other safety violations. It is illegal in every state and territory to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. BUI laws pertain to all boats, from canoes and rowboats to the largest pleasure boats. Boat operators will be cited if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds the state limit of .08.
According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities. "Boat operation under the influence is a serious problem that too often results in recreational boating fatalities," said Mark Kenny, Washington State Parks’ spokesperson for Operation Dry Water. "We want all people to enjoy their time on the water, so this campaign is focused on zero tolerance for boat operators who are under the influence."
"It’s important to realize that alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time," says Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas. "It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – all common stressors in the boating environment – intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and even some prescription medications. Alcohol also is dangerous for passengers. Intoxication can lead to slips, capsizing and falls overboard, making for a tragic accident. The best practice for boaters is to abstain from using alcohol."
Authorities contend that enforcing laws for operating a boat while under the influence is just as important to public safety as the enforcement of driving under the influence. Several law enforcement agencies are planning additional BUI emphasis patrols for weekends later in the season to coincide with on-the-water activities and when heavy boating traffic is expected.
For more information on the national Operation Dry Water campaign, visit www.operationdrywater.org. To find out how to get your Boater Education Card, visit www.boatered.org.
The Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. The 98-year-old park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.
Washington State Parks is now on Twitter at WaStatePks_NEWS and YouTube at WashingtonStateParks.