Coast Guard, FWC, local agencies gear up for 2014 Operation Dry Water

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Coast Guard crews in the area are scheduled to assist the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and local law enforcement agencies to provide an increased presence on the water Friday through Sunday in support of Operation Dry Water.

Operation Dry Water is an annual nationwide campaign focused on enforcement of boating under the influence laws and educating boaters of the risks of operating a boat under the influence.

According to the 2013 recreational boating statistics, alcohol use was a contributing factor in 32 accidents, resulting in 10 deaths and 22 injuries statewide.

The Coast Guard, along with partner agencies, will be looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08. The operation will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests and boater education outreach efforts.

“An intoxicated operator on the water is every bit as dangerous as an intoxicated operator on the road,” said Chief Warrant Officer Michael Snyder, a law enforcement officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “The Coast Guard wants boaters to stay sober to ensure that everyone has fun and most importantly makes it home safe. A boat operator, or even passengers, with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more probable and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom have collisions with other boats or fixed objects such as jetties, buoys or docks. Intoxicated passengers can simply fall overboard and run the risk of drowning or being struck by another boater. Bottom line, if you are going to operate a vessel it’s safer for everyone if you do not consume alcohol at all.”

Operation Dry Water began in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the Coast Guard and other state and local law enforcement agencies.

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