Boating Safety Tips from the U.S. Coast Guard:
Looking forward to relaxing on the boat with that ice chest full of cold beer? Better think again. Marine law enforcement officers participating in the 4th annual Operation Dry Water will be out in force the weekend of June 22-24, looking for boat operators whose Blood Alcohol Content exceeds the state limit [typically .08]. Expect increased patrols, BUI checkpoints, and breathalyzer tests, as well as educational displays and handouts.
Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in 2009 in partnership with the United States Coast Guard. It puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water just before the Fourth of July weekend to give BUI enforcement high visibility before a holiday known for drinking and boating, and deadly accidents.
Each year nearly one in five recreational boating fatalities result from alcohol use, and states have gotten tougher in enforcing laws against this high-risk behavior. Operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is against federal and most state laws. Boaters caught operating under the influence will find their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded. Penalties can include arrest, fines, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges.
Last year a new battery of testing standards for the first time allowed marine patrol officers to test boaters in a seated position and apply a percentage of probability that the subject is impaired at .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher.
With these new field sobriety tests now validated, law enforcement officials hope to be even more effective at stopping intoxicated boaters and to impress upon everyone that operating a recreational vessel while under the influence is too great a risk – to themselves, to their boat, and especially to others.
All 56 U.S. states, trusts and territories are expected to participate in Operation Dry Water, educating the public and searching for boat operators whose blood alcohol concentration exceeds the national limit of .08. For more information on this annual event, visit http://operationdrywater.org.