Operation Dry Water aims to reduce boating under the influence this holiday weekend
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Boaters heading out onto Colorado waters this weekend will see additional Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers enforcing boating under the influence (BUI) laws as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign from July 3-July 5.
This three-day enforcement operation is timed closely to the July 4th holiday each year and is designed to both educate boaters on the dangers of boating under the influence, as well as reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to alcohol and drug use on our waterways.
"It's so important for people to understand the dangers of drinking and boating, especially heading into a busy holiday season," says Grant Brown, Colorado’s Boating Safety Program Manager. "Alcohol use is the leading factor in recreational boating deaths in the United States. CPW wants Colorado boaters to get out on the water and have a great time, but you have to do so responsibly. At a minimum, you may receive a citation, but there's a chance that serious injuries can also happen. Your adult beverages will be waiting when you get back to shore - taking chances with other people's lives just isn’t worth it.”
Operation Dry Water’s mission is to raise awareness among recreational boaters about the dangers and consequences of boating under the influence, which include:
• Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, vision and reaction time on the water, that can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
• Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion are added factors found in a boating environment all of these intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications. A general rule to remember is that one drink on land is equivalent to three drinks on the water.
• Alcohol can be dangerous for passengers, too. Intoxication on board can cause injuries from slips, falls overboard, and other dangerous accidents.
Penalties for boating under the influence include receiving fines, having your boat impounded, potential jail time and loss of boating privileges. Boaters with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above the .08 state limit should expect to be arrested for BUI. In Colorado, Operation Dry Water operations will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints as well as boater education and outreach. Despite increased patrol activity, the best enforcement tool CPW has is hearing from other boaters out on the water.
“If you're on the water and see other boaters drinking while manning their boat, or acting dangerously on their watercraft, please let us know,” says Brown. “Just as you'd call 911 to report a drunk driver, calling 911 to report drinking and boating allows dispatch to get the nearest authorities out to help eliminate potential safety issues for your family and fellow boaters."
The dangers of operating under the influence of marijuana are the same as those from alcohol, and the penalties are identical for either substance. Open display or use of marijuana is illegal on public property, which includes many of the lakes, reservoirs and rivers in Colorado.
Learn more about the consequences of boating under the influence at www.operationdrywater.org. For more information on boating safety, visit cpw.state.co.us.