For Immediate Release
Tom Guess, Boating Safety Program Manager, 804-367-8693
NOTE: This news release was distributed on 6/18/2012. The information below may no longer be the most up-to-date information available, or may pertain solely to events that occurred in the past. Please contact the person listed as the contact person for this release for the most current information.
Virginia Conservation Police Officers Gear Up for Operation Dry Water 2012
National boating fatalities at highest levels since 1998; BUI a leading factor
Recreational boating fatalities last year jumped to their highest levels since 1998 and boating under the influence (BUI) was the leading contributing factor, according to the U.S. Coast Guard's report, 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics. The report comes just weeks before marine law enforcement officers nationwide turn out for Operation Dry Water, an annual campaign focused on enforcement of BUI laws and educating all boaters about the risks of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Operation Dry Water 2012 will be held June 22-24, just prior to the Fourth of July. Those caught operating a vessel under the influence will find their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded. Penalties may also include arrest, fines, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges in some states.
Despite the fact that it is against federal law and most state laws for a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher to operate a recreational vessel, BUI continues to be a major problem in the U.S. and accounts for a disproportional number of on the water deaths. Alcohol was a contributing factor in just 6 percent of boating accidents overall, but figured in 16 percent of boating fatalities.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officers will be patrolling the waterways in the Commonwealth during this weekend and will be conducting BUI focused enforcement, saturation patrols, chemical (breath) tests, checkpoints, and educational efforts.
Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water just before the Fourth of July to give BUI enforcement high visibility before a holiday known for drinking and boating - and deadly accidents.
"We want boaters to know the risks of drinking and boating," says John Fetterman, law enforcement director for NASBLA and national spokesperson for Operation Dry Water. "These are needless deaths in a recreational activity that is safe and enjoyable when people stay alert and follow the rules."
Officers from all 56 U.S. states, trusts and territories are expected to participate in Operation Dry Water 2012, educating the public and being on the lookout for boat operators whose blood alcohol concentration exceeds the national limit of .08. For more information on this annual event, visit http://operationdrywater.org.