Officers from 50 marine law enforcement agencies will be out Friday-Sunday for Operation Dry Water, the annual campaign to enforce boating under the influence laws on Washington’s waterways.
The campaign focuses on preventing accidents, injuries and deaths resulting from people abusing alcohol or drugs while operating boats. According to Washington State Parks Boating Programs, at least 30 people died between 2007-2011 in reportable boating accidents where alcohol use was a contributing factor.
The main focus of the campaign is to raise awareness of the problem and get impaired boat operators off the water by actively enforcing the law that prohibits using alcohol and drugs while operating a boat. The goal of this nationwide effort is to influence boaters to make the decision to Boat Dry and to reinforce it with a zero tolerance enforcement policy.
According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities; nearly one in five boating fatalities each year is the result of boaters impaired by alcohol.
“Boat operation under the influence is a serious problem that too often results in recreational boating fatalities,” Mark Kenny, Washington State Parks’ spokesperson for Operation Dry Water, said in a news release. “We want people to have fun on the water, so this campaign is focused on zero tolerance for boat operators who are under the influence.”
Kenny said reducing the use of alcohol and drugs by boat operators is crucial to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating. “Drunken boat operators are a public nuisance and a threat to public safety. We encourage boaters to report dangerous alcohol and drug related behavior to the local marine enforcement unit,” he said in the release.