Great Lakes Coast Guardsmen contribute to successful nationwide Operation Dry Water campaign

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CLEVELAND — Coast Guardsmen from throughout the Coast Guard 9th District, which encompasses the entire Great Lakes region, removed 11 boaters operating under the influence of alcohol during the national campaign known as Operation Dry Water, June 28 to 30, 2013.

Operation Dry Water, a nation-wide annual boating-under-the-influence awareness and enforcement campaign, addresses the issue of drunk boating. Across the country, 6,219 law enforcement officers from 513 local, state and federal agencies joined forces for this year’s campaign.

Coast Guardsmen in the 9th District conducted 1,157 boardings, issuing 92 citations, 11 boating-under-the influence citations, and 113 safety warnings during the 3-day campaign.

Launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities and to foster a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water.
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The campaign is having the desired effect, as law enforcement officers made 290 BUI arrests during the three-day boating under the influence enforcement period. Officers from participating agencies made contact with more than 140,000 boaters as part of a national effort to heighten the public’s awareness of the dangers of drinking while boating.

“We are thankful for all the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who removed almost 300 drunken boaters from our nation’s waterways, keeping countless families and individuals safe. We can’t know what horrible accidents were avoided, but we are certainly thankful that the officers were able to intervene and let recreational boaters enjoy their weekend on the water,” said John Fetterman, Operation Dry Water spokesperson and director of law enforcement for NASBLA.

“Drunk boating and boating under the influence is more than a careless choice made by a few isolated boaters. Adults and children are killed every year in accidents on the water caused by boaters who were operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Fetterman said. “Thank you to all the law enforcement personnel whose hard work and dedication continue to keep our nation’s boaters and waterways safe.”

Alcohol continues to be the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths in the United States. Since the launch of Operation Dry Water in 2009, the amount of boating fatalities with alcohol named as a contributing factor has decreased from 19 percent to 17 percent of in the United States.

While the Great Lakes Coast Guard notes that the traditional boating season has ended, boaters and other citizens recreating on the Great Lakes are urged to take caution when venturing out into the lakes as the weather turns colder and the water begins to freeze. Consuming alcohol accelerates heat loss, which can increase the risk of hypothermia in and out of the water.

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