Coast Guard effort targets intoxicated boaters

Coast Guard effort targets intoxicated boaters

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New England Coast Guard units along with Marine law enforcement officers local and state boating agencies will be out in force June 24-26 for Operation Dry Water, an annual campaign focused on the detection and enforcement of boating under the influence (BUI).

A secondary objective is to raise awareness among all boaters that it is unsafe as well as illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, according to a Coast Guard press release.

More than 17 percent of boating fatalities result from alcohol use. States have gotten tougher in recent years 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. Additional penalties can include arrest, fines, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges.

As part of this national effort, Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. NASBLA, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water the weekend before the Fourth of July weekend to give BUI enforcement high visibility before a holiday known for drinking and boating — and deadly accidents.

“Our message is a simple one,” said Walt Taylor, 1st Coast Guard District recreational boating safety coordinator. “We want recreational boaters to have fun on the water, but we can’t tolerate boaters operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”