Drinking and boating: Police looking for violators this weekend

The state’s environmental conservation (EnCon) police will step up boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement activities this weekend. EnCon officers will participate in Operation Dry Water and be out in force Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 17 and 18, looking for boaters with a blood alcohol content exceeding the state limit of .08% (the same level as for driving a motor vehicle).

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

“Boaters in Connecticut are generally safe boaters thanks to mandatory boating education,” said EnCon Capt. Ryan Healy, spokesman for the Operation Dry Water campaign. “However, when alcohol is combined with stress factors such as sun, wind, waves and engine noise, a fun day on the water can turn tragic.”

Healy said there “will be zero tolerance for BUI.”

Alcohol a factor in many accidents

BUI continues to be a factor in too many boating deaths and injuries in Connecticut and the United States. In Connecticut last year, four of six reportable boating accidents (67%) that resulted in fatalities were alcohol-related and six of 21 reportable accidents (29%) 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 probable and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.

Arrests made during June effort

EnCon police participated in the National Operation Dry Water activities in June, when four BUI arrests were made.

The National Operation Dry Water activity was 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 initiative puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide.

Learn more at www.ct.gov/deep/enconpolice.