The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is joining boating advocates across the United States who are teaming up to promote safe and responsible boating during Operation Dry Water.
Operation Dry Water weekend, June 26-28, is the national weekend of heightened enforcement of boating under the influence laws; and recreational boater outreach as part of a nationally coordinated effort to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI), and to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to alcohol use on our waterways.
Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths in the United States. By participating in Operation Dry Water, DGIF is helping to keep recreational boaters safe and working toward reducing the number of accidents and deaths on the water. “We want boaters to get out on the water and have fun in Virginia” said Colonel Ron Henry, DGIF’s Chief of Law Enforcement, “but having fun the right way means sober operators being responsible towards their passengers and looking out for other boaters.”
Environmental “stressors” associated with boating, such as the rocking of the boat, sun, wind and noise, all intensify the effect of alcohol on a person while boating. Because of this, a boater is likely to become impaired more quickly on a boat than on land. Both operators and passengers increase their chances of slips, falls overboard or becoming involved in a serious boating accident by consuming alcohol while boating.
In Virginia, boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the state limit of [.08] can be arrested for BUI and face serious penalties upon conviction including, a fine of up to $2,500 and incarceration for a period up to 12 months.
Additionally, the operator may lose his privilege to operate a boat for one year on a first offense and up to three years for any subsequent offense. DGIF supports the Operation Dry Water message which encourages boaters to never boat under the influence and enjoy their time on the water responsibly.
Operation Dry Water is a joint program of DGIF, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other state agencies. For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit: http://www.operationdrywater.org/.