Posted on June 28, 2013 at 10:12 PM
BONNEY LAKE, Wash. -- After four drowning deaths last year, boaters should expect increased police patrol and stiffer penalties for boating while intoxicated at Lake Tapps. The effort is part of a campaign called “Operation Dry Water.”
This year, the penalty for Boating While Intoxicated (BUI) has been increased to a gross misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $5000 and up to a year in jail.
“If we notice an odor or any slurring of the words or anything distinctive that indicates they’re intoxicated, then we’ll need to investigate,” said Sgt. Ryan Boyle with the Bonney Lake Police Department.
Boaters will also be subject to spot inspections beforehand. A working fire extinguisher, floatation devices and life jackets for everyone on board are required. If police find those requirements aren’t met, they’ll turn boaters away.
“It makes me feel a little bit safer,” said Jennifer Irwin, who was visiting the lake with her family.
Irwin, her husband and four kids stick to the beach area because they worry about the water when it gets really busy.
“There’s the party cove areas I’ve heard about out there. I think that can be pretty dangerous when you mix alcohol with boating,” she said.
According to Irwin, danger is just one bad decision away.
“It’s really sad, really sad,” she said.
The City of Bonney Lake contributed funding for more patrol officers and education at area elementary schools. Police officers presented at 30 assemblies recently to teach students how to stay safe when they’re near the water.