Benton boat captains: Don't boat under the influence this summer

Benton boating enthusiasts commonly pair boating with beer and other alcoholic beverages. One might even suspect that boating is just an excuse for getting drunk for some people. Such an attitude is extremely irresponsible and dangerous -- in fact, it's criminal. Boaters who cause the death or severe injury of others due to irresponsible boating under the influence may end up in jail and financially liable for the damages they cause.

Local authorities in Franklin and Benton Counties have fortunately taken notice. Area law enforcement officials will be out in full force this summer looking for boaters who are violating boating under the influence laws. It's hoped that these increased enforcement efforts will bring more awareness to the criminal consequences drunk and high boaters face and help discourage the behavior.

According to Washington statistics, 44 percent of the fatal boating incidents in the state were caused by alcohol or drug use. Across the country in 2017, 124 people died because of drunk or high boaters.

As a part of Operation Dry Water, sheriff's deputies will increase their patrols of mid-Columbia rivers this summer season. According to Washington State Park's boating law administrator, when boat captains are drunk, "balance, vision, reaction time and decision-making skills decrease, and the likelihood of an accident increases."

Stay safe this summer and avoid intoxicated boating injuries. If you're riding with a boater who is drunk at the helm, speak up or demand to get off the boat. Or, if you suffer an injury caused by an intoxicated boater, learn about your legal rights and options under Washington state personal injury law.

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