Sheriff’s Office enforcing boating under influence |

Sheriff’s Office enforcing boating under influence

Ryan Slabaugh

SUMMIT COUNTY – If you’re drinking and boating, be careful. So far this summer, 20 people have been arrested in Colorado for boating under the influence (BUI), seven of them in conjunction with accidents, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

BUI carries penalties of up to a year in jail, $1,000 in fines and 96 hours of public service.

On Dillon Reservoir, however, nobody has been cited this summer.

“We do watch for it, but it’s certainly not an issue on Dillon Reservoir like some of the lakes in more urban areas,” said Joel Cochran, technician for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office special operations unit. “So far, we’ve been an accident-free reservoir.”

The Sheriff’s Office employs two rangers four days per week to monitor the state boating code on the reservoir. Most often, Cochran said, the rangers conduct safety checks at ramps in Frisco and Dillon before boats even enter the water.

New life jacket law

Sunday’s furious storm on Lake Dillon, which forced the Sheriff’s Office to rescue many competitors in the Dillon Open, reminded everyone of the importance of wearing life jackets.

On July 1, local law enforcement began enforcing a new life jacket law for children less than 13 years old.

“I think you can ask anyone who ended up in the lake Sunday how much time they had to put on a life jacket,” Cochran said. “It’s unrealistic to think an adult would have time to put on their own life jacket and then put another on a child, all while they’re in the water.”

Enacted by the state legislature to comply with recent changes in federal boating laws, the new law requires each child to wear a personal flotation device unless that child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin. The devices must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext .257, or at

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