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Colorado River boaters (who drink) beware Operation Dry Water

June 19, 2009 |  9:53 am

Party barges, boats and revelers crowd a sandbar on the Colorado River in Lake Havasu. Summer is at hand and the Colorado River, long a favored party spot for boaters, is becoming increasingly crowded.

But the era in which boaters could freely drink and operate their vessels without worrying about police has vanished. Law enforcement now treats operating under the influence on the water as seriously as it treats driving under the influence on land.

Why? Because most deadly boating accidents involve consumption of alcohol.

And if there's one weekend that a  crackdown will be evident,  it's June 26-28, when Operation Dry Water will launch nationwide and will include a tri-state campaign on the most popular boating party spot west of the Mississippi.

That's the Colorado River, whose shores are in California, Arizona and Nevada. Though the campaign is designed to promote awareness and responsibility, boaters along the 233-mile system can expect to encounter checkpoints and will land in deep trouble if they've had too much to drink.

Said Raynor Tsuneyoshi, California's boating law administrator: "The reality is, for their safety and the safety of others, if you choose to drink and then operate a boat at or above the legal .08 limit, you will go to jail."

Consider yourselves warned.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Party barges, boats and revelers crowd a sandbar on the Colorado River in Lake Havasu. Credit: Robert Caplin / For the Times


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