Coast Guard units gear up for Operation Dry Water

HOUSTON — Coast Guard units and partnering maritime agencies will be increasing their presence in areas with heavy recreational boat traffic in support of Operation Dry Water, June 22-24, 2012.

Operation Dry Water is an annual nationwide campaign during which federal, state and local maritime agencies take to the water to educate boaters and raise awareness that it is unsafe, as well as illegal, to operate a boat under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

According to 2010 Coast Guard statistics, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of the deaths. 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 have their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded. Additionally, penalties can include arrest, fines, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges.

Operation Dry Water, launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009, 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 Independence Day to give BUI enforcement high visibility before a holiday known for drinking and boating – and deadly accidents.

“Our message is a simple one,” said Ed Huntsman, 8th Coast Guard District recreational boating safety coordinator. “We want recreational boaters to have fun on the water, but we won’t tolerate boaters operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

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