The Grant County Sheriff's Office will be conducting emphasis patrols this weekend (July 1 - 3) looking for boaters who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

For the fifteenth straight year, the marine deputies of the sheriff's office will partner with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard to stage Operation Dry Water, an effort to heighten awareness about the dangers of boating while impaired.

Sheriff's office spokesperson Kyle Foreman says alcohol and drug impairment are common factors in many accidents on the waters in Grant County and elsewhere.

"In many cases when we have a boating collision, the boat operator is under the influence of alcohol or some type of drug. Alcohol is actually the leading contributor to recreational boating deaths nationwide. We'd like to see those numbers get cut drastically though efforts like our Operation Dry Water this weekend."

The legal blood alcohol concentration threshold when operating a watercraft in Washington is the same as that of a motor vehicle - 0.08%.

Foreman says often times however, boaters aren't aware that the same rules that apply to driving a car in the state also apply to operating a boat.

"Sometimes people don't understand that there's a correlation between boating under the influence (BUI) laws and driving under the influence laws. But there is parity between the laws that apply to both. In Washington State the .08 blood alcohol level that applies to to driving under the influence is the same for boating under the influence."

Foreman adds that being intoxicated is also dangerous for passengers on a boat, since it can lead to falling overboard or suffering other potentially-life-threatening incidents.

Penalties for BUI in Washington include jail time, hefty fines, the impounding of an owner's watercraft, and revocation of boater's license.

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