Boaters beware: Operation Dry Water is in effect.
This weekend, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environment Protection along with Environmental Conservation Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and state and local police will be out in force to ensure people are boating safely and sober.
Officers will be checking for boaters with a blood alcohol content exceeding that state limit of .08 percent, as well as stepping up state wide patrols and checkpoints.
“We look for the same thing as vehicles: erratic operation, if they are up in the wake zone, boats overloaded, children not wearing their PFDs,” said conservation officer Liam O’Brien.
According to the DEEP, boating under the influence is still a major problem in Connecticut and across the United States.
Between 2008 and 2012, 47 percent of the boating accidents that resulted in fatalities were alcohol related. It is easy to see the problem, but difficult to catch in the act.
“If you are behind the wheel with someone operating under the influence, you can see them go over the lane or the curb,” said O’Brien. “Obviously on the water it is a little trickier.”
The Environment Conservation Police warn the ramifications are just as serious.
“Make no mistake, if you are caught boating under the influence, you will face the consequences,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen.
According to Captain Ryan Healy of the EnCon Police, “fines are anywhere from $500-$1,000 for a first offence, six months in jail and suspension of boating privileges.”
Operation Dry Water runs Friday, June 27 through Sunday, June 29 and, with a great forecast predicted, officials are ready for plenty of water traffic. They welcome the waves of boaters, and promise they will be watching.
“We want boaters to enjoy themselves, but there will be zero tolerance for BUI,” said Healy.