‘Operation Dry Water’ targets boating under the influence July 3-5

Friday, July 3, 2020

State Parks Boating Program reminds people to stay sober while boating

The Washington State Parks Boating Program, safety advocates and law enforcement agencies are asking boaters to help keep everyone safe by not consuming alcohol or marijuana while out on the water — especially when operating a boat or paddlecraft.

As boaters prepare for the Fourth of July holiday, law enforcement agencies are preparing for Operation Dry Water — a nationally coordinated effort that focuses on boating-under-the-influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement. Boaters will notice an increase in patrols on fresh and marine waters across Washington July 3-5.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating under the influence is the leading known contributing factor in fatal recreational boating accidents.

In Washington state, it is illegal to use any substance that impairs a person’s ability to operate a boat. The law applies to all boats, including kayaks, canoes, rowboats and inflatable fishing rafts.

Some key things for boaters to know:
  • State law allows law enforcement officers to require boaters suspected of operating a boat while intoxicated to submit to a breath or blood test.
  • Refusing to submit to a test is a civil infraction with a maximum fine of $2,050.
  • The penalty for operating a boat under the influence is a gross misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 364 days in jail.
  • Additionally, a BUI is considered a prior offense if there are later convictions for driving under the influence (DUI).

Boaters can learn more about BUI laws in Washington State and about the risks of boating under the influence by visiting boatsober.org.

Operation Dry Water is a national awareness and enforcement campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol- and drug-related boating accidents and fatalities.

About the Washington State Parks Boating Program

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission administers the state’s Boating Program, which provides leadership in recreational boating safety and environmental education and outreach.



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