Drinking while boating this weekend? You may get busted for BUI

The state’s Environmental Conservation (EnCon) police will step up enforcement activities this weekend for boating under the influence (BUI) as part of Operation Dry Water.

The EnCon officers  — part of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection — will be joined by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, State Police, and local police from Friday through Sunday, June 27 to 29, to check for boaters with a blood alcohol content exceeding the state limit of .08%.

Operation Dry Water will include statewide increased patrols and checkpoints, as well as boater education efforts. Impaired boaters can expect penalties to be severe, including jail time, fines, and loss of boating privileges.

Goal is to educate boaters

“The purpose of Operation Dry Water is to educate as many boaters as possible about the hazards of boating while under the influence and to reduce the number of alcohol and drug related accidents and deaths on the water,” said Capt. Ryan Healy of the EnCon police and spokesman for the Operation Dry Water campaign.

“If you are caught boating under the influence, you will face the consequences,” Healy said. “We want recreational boaters to enjoy themselves, but there will be zero tolerance for BUI.”

Half of fatal accidents involve alcohol

BUI continues to be a major problem in Connecticut and the United States. From 2008 to 2012 in Connecticut, 18 of 38 fatal accidents — or 47% — of the boating accidents that resulted in fatalities were alcohol-related and 19 of 105 — or 18% — of accidents with injuries involved alcohol.

A boat operator or even passengers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident.

When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.

Part of a national effort

Operation Dry Water is a multi-agency education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The effort puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide prior to the July Fourth holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.

For information, go to www.operationdrywater.org or the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/enconpolice.