Deputies to seek out intoxicated boaters July 4 weekend, marine officers say

Polk County marine patrol deputies on the Willamette River (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Marine officers will be looking for impaired boaters over the holiday weekend to enforce Oregon’s boating under the influence of intoxicants law.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies across the state are partnering with the Oregon Marine Board and U.S. Coast Guard as part of a national campaign against boating while intoxicated, the marine board announced Thursday.

Boaters in Oregon can legally drink alcohol while operating a boat or have open containers on board, but cannot be impaired or have a blood alcohol level above 0.08%, the same limit for driving. Boaters cannot smoke marijuana while boating because Oregon waterways are considered public places, and smoking pot in public is illegal.

Marine officers can arrest boaters who appear impaired and can legally obtain blood, breath or urine if the boater fails field sobriety testing.

A BUII conviction in Oregon can result in jail time, $6,250 in fines, loss of boating privileges and a one-to-three-year suspension of a boater education card, according to a news release.

“If you boat impaired, you are endangering your life and the lives of others on the water,” said Brian Paulsen, boating safety program manager for the board, in the release. “There’s a huge risk with no reward, and often innocent people become the victims.” 

-Ardeshir Tabrizian