Operation Dry Water is an annual nationwide campaign in which federal, state and local maritime agencies raise awareness about operating boats under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Coast Guard’s Joseph Rendon says that means increased visability.
“Well, we always have a presence in the general area. And in conjunction with that, we’ll target boaters specifically if we feel like they’re under the influence.”
And, just like when officers pull someone over on the highway for suspected drunken driving …
“We look for signs — maybe a bottle on the console, a beer can on the console, beer cans, empty, laying on the deck. And whenever we go over out safety briefs, we let them know that we’re doing a safety inspection, and during that process, we’ll listen for slurred speech, alcohol on the breath, the way they’re acting, if they’re nervous, something like that.”
Boating under the influence is a large enough problem that law enforcement is concerned.
“A lot of people are under the misconception that becuase they’re on the boat — they’re not on the streets — that it’s okay to drink and operate a vessel. That’s absolutely not true. It carries the same penalties, as far as fines.”
The Coast Guard says alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents — 19 percent, in 2010 statistics.