Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has officially kicked off Operation Dry Water, an effort to target drunken boaters.
“We have quite a busy boating season ahead of us here,” said Capt. Ryan Healy with DEEP’s EnCon Police.
Officers are on the water targeting BUI offenders. BUI stands for Boating under the influence.
“Our boating under the influence laws are very similar to motor vehicle DUI laws,” said Healy.
EnCon says the Connecticut River will see a lot of traffic soon, making it look like a very busy highway. Police will be looking for impaired boat operators with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of more than the state limit -- .08%.
“Save the drinking until after,” said Gerard Illinsky from New Britain.
Ilinsky and a friend spent the day fishing on the water. He says police officers are out “so you can survive and have another day and have some fun!”
The initiative, launched in 2009 with the US Coast Guard, puts thousands of local and marine law officers on the waters nationwide. They want high visibility of enforcement during this peak boating season.
“Officers have recently, this spring, gone through some training to actually detect signs of impairment with boaters,” Healy explained.
Out on the water, David Walker and his son were jet skiing. Walker is glad the police are helping to keep his family safe.
“I really don’t want to be out here with people who are under the influence,” he said.
Last year, nearly 70% of boating-related accidents in Connecticut were alcohol-related. Police made 12 BUI arrests. The penalty can include fines and jail time.
That’s why officials plan to continue to safeguard those on the water throughout this season.
“We’re going to continue this operation and boating safety initiative throughout the state and all through the summer,” Healy said.