Operation Dry Water, which begins Friday, is a national weekend of boating-under-the-influence education and enforcement aimed at reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.
Held each year during the weekend before Independence Day, Operation Dry Water is coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the states, the Coast Guard and other partner organizations.
More than 17 percent of boating fatalities result from alcohol use. States have gotten tougher in recent years in enforcing laws against the high-risk behavior. Operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is against federal and most state laws, the boating law group said.
“We want recreational boaters to have fun on the water, but we intend to exercise zero tolerance for BUI,” John Fetterman, law enforcement director for the group and national spokesman for Operation Dry Water, said in a statement.
With 2011 Operation Dry Water comes a battery of tests that, after a three-year study, the Southern California Research Institute has validated for marine use. The new battery of testing standards will for the first time allow marine patrol officers to test boaters in a seated position and apply a percentage of probability that the subject is impaired at a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
“With field sobriety tests for use on the water now validated we hope to be even more effective at stopping intoxicated boaters and to impress upon everyone that operating a recreational vessel while under the influence is too great a risk — to themselves, to their boat and especially to others,” Fetterman said.