Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to focus weekend on dangers of boating under the influence

Fourth of July on Lake Ballinger last year. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)
Fourth of July on Lake Ballinger last year. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Marine Services Unit will participate in Operation Dry Water this weekend, June 27-29, as part of a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence (BUI).

During this three-day weekend, officers will be on the water reminding boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence and detecting boaters who are impaired. And while the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office won’t have personnel out on Lake Ballinger this weekend, their message to boaters on the water there is the same as elsewhere – be smart and be safe.

Lake Ballinger is restricted to boats that do not use fuel-driven engines for propulsion, something the Sheriff Office’s Marine Services Unit does use for patrol, explained Director of Communications Shari Ireton. But she urged Lake Ballinger boaters to use great caution out on the water. “You don’t want us to have to come out with our search and rescue team,” she said.

Boating under the influence continues to be major problem nationwide; the leading factor in boater deaths is alcohol use while boating. By participating in Operation Dry Water, the Sheriff’s Office is working to keep recreational boaters safe and reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to alcohol or drug use on the water.

“Our agency encourages boaters to enjoy the boating season with friends and family, and we also encourage you do it in a safe and responsible way,” said Lt. Rodney Rochon, marine unit commander. “Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have serious, even deadly, consequences, and our goal is to make sure everyone is enjoying their time on the water and staying safe.”

In Washington, boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the state limit of .08 can expect to be arrested for BUI and face other serious penalties including having the vessel impounded, payment of fines, jail time and loss of boating privileges. Operation Dry Water patrols will include increased patrols on the water and roadways leading to and from launch facilities, and breathalyzer tests, as well as boater education and outreach.

Operation Dry Water is a joint program of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard, Washington State Patrol, Washington State Parks, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit



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