Colorado Parks and Wildlife is participating in Operation Dry Water, June 24 to 26, 2016, as part of a nationally coordinated effort to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI) and reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to alcohol and drug use on our waterways.
Operation Dry Water weekend is the national weekend of heightened enforcement of boating under the influence laws and recreational boater outreach. CPW is reaching out to our community and to the entire recreational boating community as part of the yearlong Operation Dry Water campaign to inform and educate boaters about the dangers and effects of boating while under the influence.
"Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths in the United States," says Kris Wahlers, Colorado's Boating Safety Program Manager. "By participating in Operation Dry Water, CPW is encouraging everyone to stay safe by staying sober while on the water. We want recreational boaters to have a fun and enjoyable time on the water; one impaired boater can ruin that for everyone."
Operation Dry Water's mission is to raise awareness among recreational boaters about the dangers and consequences of boating under the influence, which include:
- Alcohol use can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
- Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion --"stressors" common to the boating environment-- intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
- Alcohol is dangerous for passengers, too. Intoxication can cause slips, falls over board, and other dangerous accidents.
CPW would also like to remind boaters that it's just as dangerous to operate a boat under the influence of marijuana as it is alcohol and the penalties for doing so are identical. Many lakes, reservoirs and rivers in Colorado are considered public property, so open display or use of marijuana is also illegal.
In Colorado boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the state limit of .08 can expect to be arrested for BUI and face other serious penalties including having your vessel impounded, payment of fines, jail time and loss of boating privileges. Operation Dry Water patrols will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints as well as boater education and outreach, but even with those, the best detection and apprehension of buzzed/stoned boaters begins with fellow boaters.
"If you see someone drinking and boating or boating dangerously, please tell us" says Wahlers. "Everyone knows to call 911 and report a drunk driver on the road. The same applies to the water. Drinking is not part of the boating experience; it's a serious public safety issue and the people at risk are you and your group."