Patrols On The Lookout For Impaired Boaters - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Patrols On The Lookout For Impaired Boaters

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Laws prohibiting driving under the influence apply to roadways and the waterways. Laws prohibiting driving under the influence apply to roadways and the waterways.
NBCRightNow.com - Laws prohibiting driving under the influence apply to roadways and the waterways.

Sheriff deputies are on the water looking for anything suspicious. NBC Right Now recently tagged along for a patrol on the Columbia. Officers explained exactly what they are looking for when they are on the river.

"There are a significant number of fatalities associated with boating under the influence," explained Deputy Tom Morton from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard 16% of all boating deaths are caused by intoxicated drivers.  While a boat can be fun, officers just want to make sure the fun is not at a danger to yourself or others.

"Some of the things that intoxicated boaters do will be a clue that they might be drinking. We're always watching what the boats are doing."

Any speeding, tight turning or obvious disregard for the safety of people around you is exactly what will put an end to your fun times. Once you are pulled over a hefty fine or even an arrest could easily be in your future.

"If I can establish that you're affected by the amount of alcohol you consumed, regardless of the BAC level, then that could be charged as BUI as well."

On the other side of things, sober boaters need to be on the lookout for other drivers that could be impaired around them. The water is a different beast than the streets and danger could come from any direction.

“There's no lanes of travel, there are no center divider strips, there's no fog lines...you can kind of go 360 degrees in any direction. Other boats can also come at you from all those directions as well so you kind of need to have your head on a swivel."

It is required to have a lookout on every boat. Often times it is the driver who must be aware of all surrounding boaters.

Boating under the influence, just like driving, applies to pot smokers. With recreational marijuana stores opening up locally next week, water patrols will look out for every kind of impaired boater.