Operation Dry Water – Boat Safe. Boat Sober

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Crewmembers from Station Portsmouth, Va., conduct a simulated field-sobriety test during a boating under the influence enforcement demonstration Tuesday, June 23, 2009. (U.S. Coast Guard photo / Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Jones)

For the second year in a row, Operation Dry Water hits America’s waterways this weekend, June 25-27.

Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) detection and enforcement aimed at reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.

In case you didn’t already know it, BUI is dangerous and illegal. According to 2008 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities; nearly one in five boating fatalities each year result from boaters impaired by alcohol.

Operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher is against most State and Federal laws. BUI also applies to drugs. Even prescription medications can make operating a recreational vessel unsafe. Check with your doctor about the effects of any medications you may be taking.

Click the image to watch a Coast Guard public service announcement reminding boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence. A boat operator, drink for drink, will be impaired quicker on the water than on the road. In the marine environment motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray are all factors that help to accelerate a drinker’s impairment. (U.S. Coast Guard multimedia by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Hulme)

If marine law enforcement finds that a boat operator is BUI, the vessel’s voyage will be terminated, the boat may be impounded and the operator may be arrested. Penalties vary by state, but can include fines, jail, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges. During 2009’s operation, more than 220 boaters were arrested.

Operation Dry Water is coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, states and other agencies. It is a nationwide event with more than 80 agencies participating this year.

Consider yourself warned.

For more information, you can go to the Operation Dry Water Website, Facebook and Twitter sites or to www.nasbla.org and www.uscgboating.org.

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