Clackamas County Sheriff's Office targets drinking and boating during 'Operation Dry Water' this weekend

News Release from: Clackamas Co. Sheriff's Office

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013, 3:47 p.m.

Media and Interested Parties


Concentrated effort to curb drinking and boating slated for June 28-30, 2013


June 27, 2013 - The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office will be participating in "Operation Dry Water" from Friday-Sunday, June 28-30 -- part of a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence (BUI).

Operation Dry Water is designed to raise awareness and educate recreational boaters about the dangers of alcohol and drug use on the water.

During Operation Dry Water -- held the weekend of June 28-30 -- Sheriff's Office Marine Unit deputies will be among those out in force looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the state limit of .08.

The weekend will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints nationwide, as well as boater education.

Impaired boaters can expect to be arrested or face other serious penalties. In Oregon, the consequences for BUI include fines, jail and loss of boating or even driving privileges.

Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol continues to be a major problem across the nation. U.S. Coast Guard data reveals that alcohol is the primary contributing factor in recreational boating fatalities. [SOURCE: U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2012.]

Intoxicated boat operators and passengers run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident.

Operation Dry Water is a nationwide education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Operation Dry Water 2013 is a joint program of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other partner agencies.

For more information, visit the official Operation Dry Water website.


  • Since the start of Operation Dry Water in 2009, the percentage of boating fatalities with alcohol named as a contributing factor has decreased from 19% to 17% in the United States. (Based on the U.S. Coast Guard's 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics report.)
  • In 2012, 51 states and U.S. territories participated in Operation Dry Water. Over that three-day weekend, law-enforcement officers contacted 49,209 vessels and 113,116 boaters, made 337 BUI arrests, and issued 4,819 citations and 9,695 warnings for safety violations. All reported numbers were higher than those reported the previous year. More than 4,500 officers from 505 local, state, and federal agencies participated in 72 hours of heightened BUI enforcement.
  • From 2009 to 2012 law enforcement officers have removed 1,200 BUI operators from the water and made contact with over 313,500 boaters during the Operation Dry Water weekend.



  • U.S. Coast Guard 2012 data reveal that alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of fatalities from recreational boating accidents.
  • Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against federal law and most state laws.
  • In 2012, alcohol was a contributing factor in just 8 percent of boating accidents overall -- but figured in 17 percent of boating fatalities.
  • Alcohol 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 side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
  • Alcohol consumption can result in an inner ear disturbance that can make it impossible for a person suddenly immersed in water to distinguish up from down.
  • Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters than for drivers, since most boaters have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car. Boaters average only about 110 hours of boating per year.
  • A three-year field evaluation by the Southern California Research Institute completed in 2011, validated a battery of tests for marine use that are now the basis for efforts to implement a National Marine Field Sobriety Test standard. 
  • Combined with chemical tests using blood, breath, and urine samples, these validated ashore and afloat tests give marine law enforcement officers an impressive arsenal in their ongoing efforts to enforce BUI laws.
  • Persons found to be boating under the influence can expect to incur severe penalties. If a boat operator is BUI, the voyage may be terminated, the boat may be impounded and the operator may be arrested. Penalties vary by state but can include fines, jail, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges.
  • Alcohol is also dangerous for passengers. Intoxication can lead to slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents.
  • It is illegal in every state and territory to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. BUI laws pertain to all vessels, from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships.


  • In 2012, almost 71 percent of those who died in a boating accident drowned; 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Boat operator instruction is a significant factor in avoiding and surviving accidents. Approximately 14 percent of fatalities in 2012 occurred on boats where the operator was known to have received boating safety instruction.
  • In 2012, there were 12,101,936 recreational vessels registered in the United States. This is a 0.59% decrease from 2011 when 12,173,935 recreational vessels were registered


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