Boaters are urged to stay dry this weekend.
Sober, that is.
A new state law went into effect Tuesday that puts stiffer penalties on boaters convicted of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol.
“Drinking while boating typically kills more people during the Fourth of July weekend than during any other weekend of the year,” said Ann Van Buren of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
The effects of alcohol are increased by exposure to sun, wind, noise and boat vibrations, she said.
The blood alcohol limit for operating a vessel has dropped from .10 to .08, the same as the new level for driving on Idaho’s roads. Penalties also have increased, from a $300 to $1,000 maximum fine, and from 30 days to a maximum of six months in jail.
Those found guilty will be required to take a boater education course.
Since April, 11 recreational boaters have died and three of those deaths were alcohol related. Nine of the deaths were on rivers, Van Buren said.
In Kootenai County, boaters have another relatively new law to remember. The county recently updated its law that prohibits wakes within 100 feet of any shoreline, boat or structure.
Any boats traveling within that 100 feet distance must go 5 mph or keep wakes below 4 inches.
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