Tulare County Joins Effort to Crackdown on Boating Under the Influence

June 24, 2010

Tulare County will join a nationwide effort this weekend to step up its enforcement on boating under the influence infractions.

“The goal to raise awareness of the importance of being safe on the water,” said Neil Pilegard, Tulare County Parks Manager. “The health and safety of our public is and will remain the County's number one priority.”
California boating law enforcement officers, as part of a national coordinated effort of stepped-up enforcement known as Operation Dry Water, will be out in force the weekend of June 25-27 looking for boat operators whose blood alcohol concentration exceeds the state limit of .08 percent.

Additional Information Provided by California Boating and Waterways

In 2009, 41 percent of all reported California boating fatalities were alcohol related, according to the California Department of Boating and Waterways.
Operation Dry Water may include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints, as well as boater education. Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect penalties to be severe. According to California State Law, a person convicted of operation of a vessel while intoxicated could receive up to a $1,000 fine, six months in jail or both.

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 prescription medications. 

Boaters should also think twice about designating a sober operator. The concept works well in cars, but drunken passengers on boats can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller or cause loading problems by leaning over the side or standing up in small vessels, causing vessels to capsize. Everyone who drinks alcohol on board is at risk.

Last summer, agencies and organizations from 46 states and five territories participated in the first ever Operation Dry Water weekend. Over that three-day weekend, 2,442 marine law enforcement officers made contact with 17,454 recreational vessels and issued 5,320 boating safety warnings, 283 boating under the influence citations and 1,127 citations for other violations. This year, all 56 states, trusts and territories are expected to participate, searching for boat operators whose alcohol or drug impairment makes them a danger to other boaters.

DBW will be hosting Operation Dry Water for California in cooperation with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Fish and Game, California State Parks, California Boating Safety Officers Association and participating law enforcement agencies.

To find out more about Operation Dry Water, visit www.OperationDryWater.org.
For California boating safety information and laws, visit www.dbw.ca.gov.