Coast Guard, FWC gear up for 2013 Operation Dry Water

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

Operation Dry Water 2013 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 2012 recreational boating statistics, alcohol use was a contributing factor in 30 accidents, resulting in nine deaths and 30 injuries statewide.

Officers 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 Mike Levecque, 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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