BUI patrols keep boaters from going bottoms up

BUI patrols keep boaters from going bottoms up »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- When it gets this hot outside, a boat ride along the Columbia River is one of the keys to staying cool. But add some beer and wine into the mix... And the result could be disastrous. We took a look at what police are doing to crack down on drunk boaters and to keep families safe this summer.

Warmer weather in Tri-Cities means two things for Franklin County Sheriff's Units: More people on the water and more BUI patrols.

“We've had deaths from people boating under the influence where they just go up over another boat and kill somebody,” says Deputy Jacob Safford.

He and his partner have been out all weekend on ramped up BUI patrols. They join other law enforcement agencies in Operation Dry Water: a campaign targeting boaters who are drinking and driving.

“Kinda like how you do road DUI emphasis, we do that on the water though and we strictly enforce drivers drinking and driving the boat while going down the water,” Safford added.

Last year there were fewer than ten BUI tickets given out. While that may not seem like a lot, deputies tell me it used to be much high before the amped-up patrols.

“There's been fewer BUIs because there's a huge law-enforcement presence and the media helps out a lot too with that," Safford continued.

Apart from just looking for boaters driving under the influence, Franklin County Sheriff's units will also be looking for boaters who are driving un safely. They'll also make contacts with people who don't know the rules of the water

Deputy Safford says the Operation Dry Water campaign allows for more patrols on the river and it's that increased presence that helps keep water ways safe:

“We're more into education-- enforcement by education than necessarily than writing a ticket. We want to make sure people know the right way to do things and know the safest way for them,” he says.

They hope the added patrols will help people have fun on the water without the threat of danger.
Unlike a DUI citation, open containers are allowed in boats the driver, however, may not be in consumption of any alcoholic beverage.