"Operation Dry Water," a nationwide campaign focusing on enforcement of boating under the influence laws, runs from Friday, June 28, through Sunday, June 30. With temperatures forecast to climb into the 80s this weekend in Snohomish County, the Sheriff's Office Marine Services Unit expects to be busy.
"Our patrols will be on the water and at boat ramps to arrest intoxicated boaters, and to educate as many boaters as possible about the dangers of boating under the influence," said unit commander Lt. Rodney Rochon. Impaired boaters can expect penalties that include fines and jail time.
The 2012 U.S. Coast Guard recreational boating statistics show alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. According to the Washington State Parks Boating Program, between 2007-13, at least 36 people have died in boating accidents where alcohol use was a contributing factor.
"When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more probable and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard," Rochon said.
Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the USCG. The campaign puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide prior to the Fourth of July holiday, to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.
Rochon emphasized that boating can be a safe and enjoyable pastime when people stay alert and follow the rules, which is why his goal for Snohomish County boaters is that they understand the added risks associated with BUI, and avoid drinking and boating.
Operation Dry Water 2013 is a joint program of the USCG, NSBLA, Washington State Parks Boating Program and local law enforcement.
For more information regarding safe boating in Washington go to www.boat.wa.org.