The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement will be promoting awareness and conducting heightened enforcement this Fourth of July weekend targeting boating under the influence as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign.
According to an FWC press release, the Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest boating holidays all over the U.S., and FWC officers will be enforcing Florida’s boating under the influence laws and educating boaters about safe boating practices, which includes boating sober.
In 2021, the month of July had two fatalities and 53 people injured due to BUI-related boating accidents.
The FWC stresses it is illegal to operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and consequences. In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher—the same as it is to operate a vehicle.
“Boating while impaired endangers not only yourself but your family, friends and other boaters on the water,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC’s boating and waterways section leader, in the release. “FWC officers will be actively patrolling statewide looking for impaired boaters. Our mission is to ensure the safety of all those enjoying the state’s vast and diverse waterways. That is why the FWC is joining other states and agencies across the country to do our part in keeping boaters safe and preventing accidents related to boating under the influence.”
According to the release, alcohol is a leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths and a major contributor to accidents. Last year in Florida, 20% of fatal accidents were related to alcohol or drug use.
The FWC urges the importance of having a designated operator who isn’t drinking alcohol and will remain sober if anyone on the boat decides to have alcohol on their vessel. The FWC encourages boaters to enjoy the boating season to its full extent by boating sober, wearing a life jacket and taking a boating education course.
The national Operation Dry Water weekend will take place July 2-4. The mission of Operation Dry Water is to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities on the water.