Folsom Lake to add more ‘boating under the influence’ checkpoints over holiday weekend

This holiday weekend, authorities are cracking down on “BUI” – boating under the influence – on Folsom Lake.

Recreation areas, coast guard stations and county sheriff’s departments across California are increasing patrols and checkpoints on bodies of water this weekend to prevent alcohol and drug use while driving boats, according to a news release from the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

As part of the effort, called Operation Dry Water, increased checkpoints will be in effect on Folsom Lake from July 4-7, according to the operation’s website. Patrol duty will be split between park staff and officers from Sacramento, El Dorado, and Placer counties.

“Our waterways during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday will be crowded,” said Ramona Fernandez of California Parks & Recreation Department Division of Boating and Waterways in the release. “Accidents that happen when an operator is impaired can hurt many people.”

Last year, there were 11 deaths on lakes in Northern California in 2018, according to state data – the most of any region in the state but down from 16 in 2017.

Are you visiting Folsom Lake State Recreation Area this weekend? Here’s what officials say you should know before you go:

  • If you’re boating on Folsom Lake, you are allowed to drink alcohol. But if your blood alcohol content rises above 0.08% – the same as the legal limit to drive – you could face a $1,000 fine or spend up to six months in jail.

  • If officers deem conditions unsafe, they can also arrest boaters with a BAC under the 0.08% limit.

  • All fires are banned in the recreation area, including those inside provided campfire rings.
  • It costs $10 to launch a power boat at Folsom Lake, and between $5 and $12 to visit many parts of the park in a car.
  • Most parts of the park open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m., but some areas including Granite Bay and Folsom Point are open until 10 p.m.
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Elliot Wailoo, from Yale University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee interested in prison systems, police, and education. He is originally from New Jersey.