The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement will be promoting awareness and conducting heightened enforcement targeting boating under the influence as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign this weekend.
FWC officers will be focused on educating boaters about safe boating practices, which includes boating sober and enforcing Florida’s boating under the influence laws.
The Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest boating holidays all over the U.S., including here in Florida. In 2019, the month of July had five fatalities and 68 people injured due to BUI related boating accidents.
Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and consequences. In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher — the same as it is to operate a vehicle.
“When boaters choose to operate while impaired, they are endangering not only themselves but their family, friends and other boaters on the water as well,” said Maj. Robert Rowe, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “As FWC officers, it is our job to do all we can to ensure the safety of our recreational boaters and paddlers. That is why the FWC is joining other states and agencies across the country to do our part in keeping boaters safe and preventing accidents related to boating under the influence.”
Alcohol is a leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths, and a major contributor to accidents. Last year in Florida, 32% of fatal accidents were related to alcohol or drug use.
If a person decides to take alcohol on their voyage, it is important to designate an operator who isn’t drinking alcohol and will remain sober to ensure everyone gets home safely. The FWC encourages boaters to enjoy the boating season to its full extent by boating sober, wearing a life jacket and taking a boating education course.
The national Operation Dry Water weekend will take place July 3 through July 5. The mission of Operation Dry Water is to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water.