Don’t even think about boating under the influence. That’s the message from Oregon officials for people enjoying the Fourth of July weekend.
“Our message is simple. If you boat impaired, you are endangering your life and the lives of others on the water,” Brian Paulsen, Boating Safety Program Manager with the Oregon State Marine Board, said in a statement. “There’s a huge risk with no reward, and often innocent people become the victims.”
The Marine Board, U.S. Coast Guard and marine law enforcement will be partnering to enforce Oregon’s BUII (Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants) laws.
Penalties can include jail time, $6,250 in fines, loss of boating privileges and a suspension of up to three years of the boater education card.
Officers will be looking for impaired boat operators. The Marine Board warns these officers have completed special training to recognize if someone is impaired whether it be from alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, prescription drugs and other substances.
The Marine Board warns that the effects of drugs and alcohol are amplified on the water due to sun glare, wind, waves and other environmental factors.
Alcohol can also dehydrate people, so the Marine Board warns that the risk of drowning increases in cold water.
Paulsen also urges people to wear life jackets.
“If boaters changed two things; wear life jackets and abstain from impairing substances, boating fatalities would be reduced by more than half,” Paulsen said. “Oregon’s waters can be challenging enough to navigate for a sober boater.”
Anyone who sees a boater they suspect is impaired or is otherwise acting as a danger to others is asked to call 911.