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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 19, 2011 at 8:08 AM

Special law enforcement campaign shows boating and alcohol are a bad mix

Boating and drinking alcohol don’t mix on the state’s waterways.

And as part of Operation Dry Water, an annual campaign to detect and enforce boating under the influence (BUI) laws on the state’s waterways, Washington law enforcement officers will be out in force June 24-26.

The campaign stresses 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 three of the eight 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.

In June 2010 the campaign of 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.

For more information go to the Operation Dry Water Campaign website.

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