Nationwide federal, state and local agencies to focus enforcement of boating under the influence

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies will be out in full force June 25-27 for Operation Dry Water 2010.

Operation Dry Water is a national focus of marine law enforcement agencies to enforce the laws on boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as other boating laws.

Boaters found to be impaired can expect severe penalties that may include fines, jail time, loss of boating privileges, and even loss of driving privileges.

According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics, boating under the influence is still the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. In 2008, 17 percent of deaths from recreational boating accidents resulted from boaters impaired by alcohol or drugs. Other BUI statistics include:

  • According to the National Transportation and Safety Board, recreational boating accidents are second only to highway accidents in the number of transportation fatalities.
  • A boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .10 percent is estimated to be more than 10 times as likely to die in a boating accident than an operator with zero blood alcohol concentration.
  • It is illegal in every state and territory to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • BUI laws pertain to ALL boats, from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships.
  • Operating a boat with a BAC of .08 or higher is against most state and federal laws.
  • Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
  • Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion – “stressors” common to the boating environment – intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
  • Alcohol consumption can result in an inner ear disturbance that can make it impossible for a person suddenly immersed in water to distinguish up from down.
  • Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters than for drivers, since most boaters have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car. Boaters average only about 110 hours of boating per year.
  • Boating Under the Influence can have severe consequences. If a boat operator is BUI, the voyage may be terminated, the boat may be impounded and the operator may be arrested.
  • Alcohol is also dangerous for passengers. Intoxication can lead to slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents.

Agencies and organizations from 46 states and five territories participated in the first ever Operation Dry Water, in June 2009. Over that three-day weekend, 2,442 marine law enforcement officers made contact with 17,454 recreational vessels and issued 5,320 boating safety warnings, 283 BUI citations and 1,127 citations for other violations. This year, all 56 states, trusts and territories are expected to participate, searching for boat operators whose blood alcohol concentration exceeds the national limit of .08 percent.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit

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