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‘Operation Dry Water’ campaign targets impaired boating


The Oregon Marine Board, law enforcement from 32 counties and the Oregon State Police will be participating in Operation Dry Water this weekend as part of a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence of intoxicants.

So far this year, officials say, Oregon has experienced five recreational boating fatalities. Of the five, three are being investigated for potential drug and alcohol impairment.

“Boating under the influence of intoxicants means prescription drugs, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, or any other substance that impairs a person’s ability to make sound judgments and have the ability to safely operate a boat,” says Ashley Massey, Public Information Officer for the Marine Board.

And this doesn’t just apply to motorboats. Of the three fatalities involving marijuana, other drugs and alcohol, two involved paddlecraft and one, a motorboat. Oars and paddles that are used in kayaks, canoes, drift boats and stand up paddleboards are not easy to control, especially when coming upon a rapid, obstruction, or in a fast moving current if the person is inexperienced. Of the five fatalities, four occurred on rivers and one in the pacific ocean. “Rivers and the surf zone are the most dangerous areas for people to recreate, and require skill, quick thinking, good balance and vision, and fast reactions because the weather and water levels continually change,” says Massey. Drugs and alcohol’s effects are also amplified on the water with the combination of sun , glare, wind, waves and other motion.

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 boating privileges. The Marine Board urges boaters to boat safe, and boat sober -from any type of intoxicants.

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