Beginning this weekend, 6/29, boaters at state parks will see heightened enforcement of boating under the influence (BUI) laws as Colorado Parks and Wildlife participates in the national Operation Dry Water campaign.
The three-day operation will take place from June 29th to July 1st.
The operation, timed to coincide with a busy July 4th weekend, is designed to educate boaters and reduce the number of boating accidents an deaths related to alcohol an drug use on Colorado’s waterways.
"Alcohol use remains the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths in the United States," says Grant Brown, Colorado’s Boating Safety Program Manager. "CPW encourages everyone to stay safe by staying sober while on the water. We want Colorado boaters to have a fun and enjoyable time on the water, but to do so responsibly. Being reckless and boating under the influence can have consequences well beyond a citation; taking that chance just isn’t worth it.”
CPW said their mission is to raise awareness among recreational boaters about the dangers and consequences of boating under the influence. Those dangers can 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.
CPW said that boaters who register a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the state limit of .08 should expect the following penalties. Arrest for BUI, fines, having your boat impounded, potential jail time, and loss of boating privileges.
The operation will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, checkpoints, and boater education and outreach. Despite the increased, CPW said their greatest tool is other boaters.
“If you see someone drinking and boating or being dangerous on their watercraft, please let us know,” said Brown. “It is no different than calling 911 to report a drunk driver on the road to keep your family and community safe. Don’t let someone else’s bad decision impact the safety of everyone else on the water.”
CPW want’s to remind the public that the dangers and penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are the same as those for alcohol. Also, many lakes, reservoirs and rivers in Colorado are considered public property, so open display or use of marijuana is illegal and may result in additional consequences.
You can find more information on Operation Dry Water here: www.operationdrywater.org.