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Beer-rafting not for the sloshed

We’re taking a rafting trip on the Rogue River, and I was wondering what the rules are about having beer in our raft. Am I allowed to have an open beer while we’re headed down the river?

— Bob, Medford

Oregon’s Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants rules are more lax than driving rules, but they are written to ensure safety while on the water.

Marine officials are always waving the “boat sober” flag, because it’s the best way to stay alert when on lakes, rivers or the ocean.

Open containers of alcohol are allowed on boats, and even operators are allowed to be drinking, but they cannot be impaired, according to Oregon law. While the same .08 percent level of blood-alcohol content is used to determine whether someone is intoxicated while operating a car or a boat, the operator can be cited if they fail field-sobriety tests even if their blood-alcohol content is lower than that threshold.

And operation has been defined in courts as steering or even propelling a boat. That means you can be cited simply for helping paddle a raft down the river, regardless of whether you are steering.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.