Local law enforcement officers will be out in force looking for impaired boaters this weekend.
is teaming up with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to participate in the national Operation Dry Water 2012 campaign starting today, June 22, through Sunday, June 24. This nationwide campaign focuses on enforcement of boating under the influence (BUI) laws and educating all boaters to the risks of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Recreational boating fatalities last year jumped to their highest levels since 1998 and BUI was the leading contributing factor, according to the USCG’s report, 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics.
Officers will be cracking down on boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) exceed the state limit of .08. Impaired boaters may expect penalties that include fines and jail time.
“We intend to arrest intoxicated boaters and to educate as many boaters as possible about the dangers of boating under the influence,” said GHPD Marine Services Officer Fred Douglas.
According to the USCG, boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs continues to be a major problem in the United States. Boat operators or even passengers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. Last year alone, alcohol was a contributing factor for 19 percent of boating fatalities in the U.S.
Between 2007 and 2011, the Washington State Parks Boating Safety Programs reports at least 30 people were killed in boating accidents where alcohol was a contributing factor.
“When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more probable and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard,” said Douglas.
Operation Dry Water (ODW) was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard. The campaign puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide prior to the July 4th holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.