SARASOTA, Fla. -- June 27, 2018 - 3 p.m.
As the July 4th holiday approaches, the Sarasota Police Department will be focusing on keeping boaters safe by cracking down on boating under the influence. Marine Patrol Officers will be conducting heightened awareness and enforcement of boating under the influence laws as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign.
In partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the Sarasota Police Department is working to increase boater awareness of the hazards associated with boating under the influence and decrease the number of accidents and deaths attributed to impaired boating and other unsafe boating practices.
From June 29 - July 1, law enforcement nationwide will be looking for impaired boaters as part of Operation Dry Water weekend. Boaters will notice an increase in the numbers of officers on the water. This effort will result in the removal of impaired operators, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters this boating season.
“As a part of the community ourselves, we want to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, and anyone enjoying our waters have a safe place to spend their time on the water,” says Sarasota Police Marine Patrol Officer Ron Dixon. “Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as is does when driving a car, even more so because of the added stressors of sun, heat, wind and noise on a boat. Choosing to consume alcohol while boating puts everyone at risk, including passengers and people in the water. Our goal is to remove anyone choosing to operate a vessel impaired and to keep everyone else safe,” says Officer Dixon.
Tips to staying safe on the water this summer:
· Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 15% of deaths according to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2016.
- Wear your life jacket. 83% of people who drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket. Always wear a life jacket!
- Take a boating safety education course. 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction, where instruction was known.
Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against federal law and most state laws. Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters than for drivers, since most boaters have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car.
Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and consequences. In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher – the same as it is to operate a vehicle. If you are found to be impaired and operating a boat you will be arrested.
Additional information regarding Operation Dry Water can be found at www.operationdrywater.org