This weekend, June 24 through 26, a multi-agency initiative is taking to the water in an effort to limit accidents and fatalities as a result of boating under the influence.
Operation Dry Water, coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal law enforcement officers on the water nationwide to raise visibility of BUI enforcement. These officers are not only on the lookout for boaters who drink, but they are also providing boating safety education and awareness materials.
This operation will not be limited to the water. Many shore-side law enforcement officers are joining the effort, since too often drunk boaters become drunk drivers. In fact, approximately 80 percent of recreational boats are driven on trailers to lakes, rivers, and coastal marinas.
With alcohol use being the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, impaired boaters can expect penalties to be severe. If a boat operator is under the influence, the voyage may 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.
“We want recreational boaters to have fun on the water, but we intend to exercise zero tolerance for BUI,” said John Fetterman, law enforcement director for NASBLA and national spokesperson for Operation Dry Water.
In 2010, all 50 States and six U.S. Territories participated in Operation Dry Water. Over the three-day weekend law enforcement officers made contact with 40,127 vessels and 66,472 boaters, along with making 322 BUI arrests, and issuing 4,171 citations and 7,522 warnings for safety violations.
When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion – “stressors” common to the boating environment – intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
Be vigilant and make sure you and the boaters around you aren’t boating under the influence. Zero tolerance for boating while intoxicated is year round. It’s just not worth the risk and can ruin your boating season.
For more information on this annual event, visit http://www.operationdrywater.org