Operation Dry Water focuses on impaired boat operators

Photo by Operation Dry Water.

The Marine Board, law enforcement from 17 county sheriff’s offices, and seven Oregon US Coast Guard Stations will be participating in Operation Dry Water during the weekend of July 5-7 as part of an effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities related to Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants (BUII).

 Operation Dry Water is coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Agencies from all 56 states, trusts, and territories are expected to participate in Operation Dry Water and in the Operation Dry Water 2019 heightened awareness and enforcement weekend, July 5-7.

The agencies that will be participating in Operation Dry Water near Tillamook County are the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office and USCG (United States Coast Guard) Station Tillamook Bay.

“We’ve had multiple fatalities in 2019 where alcohol, marijuana and other drugs may have played a factor,” said Randy Henry, Boating Safety Program Manager for the Marine Board, in a press release. “It’s tragic and preventable, and we’re doing our best to keep Oregon’s waters safe for families.”

Launched in 2009 by NASBLA in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water has been a highly successful campaign, drawing public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol and drugs. Since 2009, according to Operation Dry Water’s website, law enforcement officers have removed 3,532 BUI operators from the nation’s waterways and made contact with over 1.3 million boaters during the annual three-day weekend.

Many marine officers have completed specialized training to recognize alcohol and drug impairment. This includes prescription drugs, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, or any other substance that impairs a person’s ability to make judgments and safely operate a boat. Impaired boaters can expect to be arrested or face serious penalties. In Oregon, the consequences of being convicted of BUII include the possibility of jail time, $6,250 in fines, and loss of boat privileges.

“Overall, recreational boating is very safe if boaters wear life jackets, boat sober, and keep a sharp lookout,” said Henry. “Waterways are becoming more crowded with a variety of mixed boating and other activities, so it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on around you and to follow the navigation rules of the road.”

For more information about Operation Dry Water, visit www.operationdrywater.org.

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