Most people know that drunk driving is incredibly dangerous and puts everyone’s lives at risk, however, not a lot of people transfer that knowledge to water craft. It’s no surprise that alcohol is involved in about 20% of boating accidents and fatalities. There were 737 boating accidents in Florida alone in 2015.
Beyond just being dangerous, operating a boat while intoxicated is just as illegal as driving a car while drunk. Operating any watercraft under the influence of alcohol will result in an arrest for boating under the influence, and there will be an increase in police presence looking for those who are driving a boat while intoxicated.
In an effort to reduce boating accidents and water fatalities, Arizona, California, and Nevada have decided to roll out Operation Dry Water. The program has been designed in a coordinated effort with the United States Coast Guard. This will include steep fines and possible jail time for anyone operating a watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. People under 21 years old with traces of alcohol in their system could face some trouble as well.
Boaters caught operating under the influence could be facing a jail sentence of six months to a year as well as a fine of up to 1,000 dollars. But the cost does not stop there. Violators will also have to face court costs and the prospect of a criminal record.
Operation Dry Water is a concerted effort to increase the presence of law enforcement patrolling on the water looking for those who might be breaking the law. Los Angeles County has decided to ramp up Operation Dry Water this weekend (June 24-26) in hopes to prevent future boating accidents over the summer holidays. There will be checkpoints set up in which the Los Angeles County Sheriff will be conducting sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests. Since the introduction of Operation Dry Water in 2009, boating accidents and deaths relating to alcohol and drug use have decreased in the United States.
Law enforcement stresses that people who are on the water and have alcohol should make sure to designate a sober driver in order to avoid trouble and danger. In addition to avoiding alcohol, it’s advised that all boaters and people enjoying their day on the water should wear flotation devices. Even good swimmers can succumb to the shock of an accident or the effects of alcohol. Watercraft operators are advised to keep sober and keep safe or they could be facing trouble from law enforcement.