Thousands of law enforcement officers across the country will be on heightened alert for violators of boating-under-the-influence laws during the annual Operation Dry Water weekend, which starts Friday.
Operation Dry Water is a nationally coordinated heightened awareness and enforcement campaign that is focused on deterring people from boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Campaign officials said alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading factor in recreational boating accidents.
Law enforcement agencies from every U.S. state and territory are expected to participate in Operation Dry Water weekend, focusing on detecting impaired boaters and educating the public about the dangers of boating under the influence.
In 2014 alcohol use was the primary factor in nearly a quarter of boater deaths, at 21 percent, campaign officials said.
“The decision about whether to drink and boat under the influence is a choice every boater makes,” National Association of State Boating Law Administrators deputy executive director John Fetterman said in a statement. “Boating under the influence is a 100 percent preventable crime. Operation Dry Water, participating law enforcement agencies and our boating safety partners encourage boaters to stay safe by staying sober while boating.”
Since the inception of the campaign in 2009, law enforcement officers have removed 1,875 BUI operators from the nation’s waterways and made contact with more than 604,250 boaters during the annual three-day weekend. In 2014, 585 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and Coast Guard units from 56 states and territories participated.
Environmental “stressors” such as wind, noise and the movement of the boat while on the water intensify the effects of alcohol or drug use on someone who is boating. Boaters can become impaired more quickly on the water than on land.
Operation Dry Water is a year-round boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign with the mission of reducing the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.