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Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers will increase BUI enforcement

In advance of the July 4 holiday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers will conduct Operation Dry Water Friday through Sunday.

Boaters at state parks will see heightened enforcement of boating under the influence (BUI) laws during the weekend, according to a press release from the agency.

Operation Dry Water patrols will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints as well as boater education and outreach.

The three-day operation is designed to educate boaters and reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to alcohol and drug use on the waterways.

“Alcohol use remains the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths in the United States,” Grant Brown, Colorado’s Boating Safety Program manager, said in the release. “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.”

According to the release, the dangers and consequences of boating under the influence 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.
  • Intoxication on board can cause injuries to passengers from slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents.

Boaters who register a blood alcohol content level exceeding the 0.08 state limit can expect to be arrested for BUI and face penalties including fines, having the boat impounded, potential jail time and loss of boating privileges.

Fellow boaters remain one of the most important tools CPW has on the water, according to the release.

“If you see someone drinking and boating or being dangerous on their watercraft, please let us know,” Brown said. “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.”

The agency also cautioned that many lakes, reservoirs and rivers in Colorado are considered public property, so open display or use of marijuana is illegal and may result in citations.

Boaters can pledge to boat sober and find more information about boating under the influence at operationdrywater.org.

Originally posted at Reporter Herald on June 28, 2018.