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News Releases
Impaired Boat Operators in Focus July 2-4 - 06/30/22

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Marine law enforcement officers across the state will be partnering with the Oregon State Marine Board and the US Coast Guard to enforce Oregon’s Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants (BUII) laws this July 4th weekend. 

“Our message is simple. If you boat impaired, you are endangering your life and the lives of others on the water,” says Brian Paulsen, Boating Safety Program Manager with the Oregon State Marine Board. “There’s a huge risk with no reward, and often innocent people become the victims.” 

Marine officers will specifically be looking for impaired boat operators over the holiday weekend as part of the national Operation Dry Water Campaign. Many marine officers have completed specialized training to recognize alcohol and drug impairment. This includes prescription drugs, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, or any other substance that impairs a person’s ability to make good judgment and safely operate any boat. The effects of drugs and alcohol are also amplified on the water with the combination of sun glare, wind, waves, and other environmental stressors. Alcohol also dehydrates the body making sudden immersion into cold water at an even greater risk of drowning. 

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, loss of boating privileges, and a one-to-three-year suspension of the boater education card. Marine officers can arrest boaters on observed impairment and can legally obtain blood, breath, or urine if a boater fails standardized field sobriety testing. 

“Recreating responsibly doesn’t just mean boating sober. Be a courteous boater, and wear your lifejacket,” Paulsen adds. “Waterways are becoming more crowded with a variety of mixed boating and other activities, so it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on around you and for everyone to follow the navigation rules of the road.” 

“If boaters changed two things; wear life jackets and abstain from impairing substances, boating fatalities would be reduced by more than half,” says Paulsen. “Oregon’s waters can be challenging enough to navigate for a sober boater.”  

If you see an impaired operator or someone who is operating in a way that threatens others’ safety, call 911 and report it.  Paulsen says, “We can work together to save lives. See something, say something.”   

For more information about Operation Dry Water, visit www.operationdrywater.org.


The following enforcement partners are participating in Operation Dry Water 2022: Baker County Sheriff's Office, Coos County Sheriff's Office, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Klamath County Sheriff's Office, Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Linn County Sheriff's Office, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, USCG Sector North Bend, USCG Station Chetco River, USCG Station Coos Bay, USCG Station Depoe Bay, USCG Station Portland, USCG Station Siuslaw River, USCG Station Tillamook Bay, and USCG Station Yaquina Bay.

Drift boat instructor showing a student the best line to maneuver during the 2021 Drift Boat School coordinated by the Oregon State Marine Board.
Drift boat instructor showing a student the best line to maneuver during the 2021 Drift Boat School coordinated by the Oregon State Marine Board.
Marine Law Enforcement Annual Drift Boat Training Set for Rogue River (Photo) - 06/14/22

During the week of June 21 through 25, Marine Law Enforcement officers from around the state will be learning and perfecting their drift boating skills on the Rogue River. Students will learn to swim in whitewater, study hydrodynamics, practice rescue techniques, navigate Class III whitewater, and operate in remote environments from drift boats, rafts, and catarafts.

Running whitewater is a perishable skill and requires constant training and practice so law enforcement can respond to emergencies quickly and confidently. 

“There’s no training like it anywhere else in the country, says Eddie Persichetti, Law Enforcement Training Coordinator for the Marine Board. “Experienced instructors from around the state help guide the way for the less experienced students.” Each day the students drift various river sections. Persichetti adds, “Day one we begin with classroom instruction, self-rescue techniques in the water, rope rescue techniques, and dewatering drills. On days two through five, we focus students’ attention on reading white water. It’s incredibly important to see the whole run vs. the next ten feet in front of the boat. As the week progresses, instructors build on the skills from the day before and then move on to more advanced skills with more difficult rapids throughout the week. The key is to develop the skillsets and confidence in officers so they can safely patrol Oregon’s waterways and assist boaters in distress. The safety of everyone recreating on the water is our top priority,” Persichetti explains.   

The training and experience the officers gain during this event provide a strong foundation for when they return to their waterways to patrol. “We also practice scenarios where students encounter boaters and guides who are not in compliance with existing laws,” Persichetti adds. “Oregon’s waterways seem to become more crowded every year and it’s imperative that law enforcement focuses on those boaters who are not in compliance and more so, boaters who are not being safe on the water.” Persichetti adds, “When the law enforcement students leave this training, they have a new respect and understanding for safety on the river, the people who run it, and who play by the rules.”

Recreational boaters can expect to see law enforcement officers drifting on the Upper Rogue from Lost Creek Reservoir to Touvelle Park from June 21st through June 24th and the Middle Rogue from Ennis Riffle to Argo Canyon on June 25th

For more information about boating laws and regulations, visit Boat.Oregon.gov.