DEEP: Operation Dry Water

{Operation Dry Water}
June 28-30, 2013
About Operation Dry Water:
  • Launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water has been a highly successful effort to draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol and drugs.  
  • Held in June just prior to the Fourth of July holiday, Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of BUI detection and enforcement including state and local agencies, aimed at reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities and fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water. 
  • Since the start of Operation Dry Water in 2009, the percentage of boating fatalities with alcohol named as a contributing factor has decreased from 19% to 17% in the United States. (Based on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics report.)
  • From 2009 to 2012 law enforcement officers have removed 1,200 BUI operators from the water and made contact with over 313,500 boaters during the Operation Dry Water weekend.
  • In 2012, 51 states and U.S. territories participated in Operation Dry Water. Over that three-day weekend law enforcement officers contacted 49,209 vessels and 113,116 boaters, made 337 BUI arrests, and issued 4,819 citations and 9,695 warnings for safety violations. All reported numbers were higher than those reported the previous year.
About BUI:
  • Nationally, alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of fatalities from recreational boating accidents, according to USCG 2012 statistics. 1
  • In Connecticut last year, 67% (4 of 6 reportable accidents) of boating accidents that resulted in fatalities were alcohol-related and 29% (6 of 21 reportable accidents) of accidents with injuries requiring medical attention beyond first aid were alcohol-related.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, 49% (18 of 37 reportable accidents) of boating accidents that resulted in fatalities were alcohol-related; 16% (18 out of 110 reportable accidents) of the accidents with injuries requiring medical attention beyond first aid involved alcohol.
  • Connecticut had a total 12 BUI arrests in 2012.
  • It is illegal in every state and territory to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. BUI laws pertain to all vessels, from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships.
  • Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against federal law and state law.
  • Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
  • Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion – “stressors” common to the boating environment – intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
  • Alcohol consumption can result in an inner ear disturbance that can make it impossible for a person suddenly immersed in water to distinguish up from down.
  • Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters than for drivers, since most boaters have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car. Boaters average only about 110 hours of boating per year.
  • Persons found to be boating under the influence can expect to incur penalties. If a boat operator is BUI, the voyage may be terminated, the boat may be impounded and the operator may be arrested. Penalties in Conn. include fines, jail, and loss of boating privileges.
  • Alcohol is also dangerous for passengers. Intoxication can lead to slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents.
What is DEEP doing to reduce BUI?
  • BUI training for officers (state, local, federal). ld 3 day BUI course in April.
  • Increasing awareness of the dangers of boating under the influence to boaters through print, social media (Facebook), and public outreach ( Boat shows, public safety vessel, Prudence)
  • Increasing enforcement patrols
Other Connecticut Boating Safety Facts:
  • In 2012, 50% (3 of 6) of those who died in a boating accident drowned; all of those who drowned (100%) were not wearing a life jacket.
  • In 2012, there were 103,992 recreational vessels registered in Connecticut. This is a 1.4% decrease from 2011 when 105,499 recreational vessels were registered.
  1 Source:  U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2012