Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a year-round, national boating under the influence (BUI) heightened awareness and enforcement campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol- and drug- related incidents and fatalities on the water. The 2022 Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend will be starting Saturday, July 2nd, and will run through Monday, July 4th, nationwide.
LEXINGTON, Ky., July 2, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — On Friday, July 1st, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), U.S. Coast Guard, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), kicked off the 2022 Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend with a press conference on J. Percy Priest Lake.
Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a year-round, national boating under the influence (BUI) heightened awareness and enforcement campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol- and drug- related incidents and fatalities on the water. Annually, Operation Dry Water facilitates a three-day heightened awareness and enforcement weekend, targeting operators who choose to boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The 2022 Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend will be starting Saturday, July 2nd, and will run through Monday, July 4th, nationwide.
“We are all here today to talk about the preventable crime of boating under the influence and what we are doing to educate boaters and prevent future incidents related to impaired boating,” said Taylor Matsko, NASBLA Communications and Marketing Director. “In 2009, NASBLA in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, launched the Operation Dry Water campaign to address this problem of impaired boating on our nation’s waterways.”
Alcohol use continues to be the leading contributing factor in recreational boater fatalities, and a leading factor in recreational boating incidents.* Nationally there has also been a rise in incidents related to drug impairment.
“TWRA officers remain steadfast throughout the year in their education and enforcement of BUI laws. However, this weekend we plan to highlight the dangerous and preventable crime of boating under the influence,” said Colonel Darren Rider, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Each year, our wildlife officers investigate boating related incidents that lead to serious injury or death, where the primary contributing factor is alcohol and/or drug use. BUI is DUI, and it is time we begin to call it what it is.”
Law enforcement agencies from all 56 U.S. states and territories, including the U.S. Coast Guard, will be participating in Operation Dry Water. These agencies and their officers will focus their efforts on detecting impaired boaters, removing them from our nation’s waterways and educating the public about the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
“Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs if not only dangerous to you, but also everyone around you. Incidents involving passengers who are impaired is on the rise, and the risk of falling overboard is exponentially multiplied,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ben Gardner, United States Coast Guard.
While many people recognize that impairment is dangerous for the operator of any vessel, boating under the influence is also extremely perilous for passengers as well.**
“Choosing to drink and boat is a dangerous, potentially deadly, choice. The incidents, injuries and deaths caused by boating under the influence are 100% preventable,” said Alex Otte, MADD National President. “I am grateful to NASBLA, MADD, TWRA and the U.S. Coast Guard for taking this opportunity to raise awareness of this tragedy. It will take all of us, and all of our communities, committed to making the right choices to save lives and prevent injuries on our nation’s waterways.”
Along with promoting increased awareness of the dangers surrounding impaired boating, NASBLA believes that the best way to reduce boating under the influence is to strengthen law enforcement capabilities on the water. Throughout the country, many law enforcement officers participate in boating under the influence training to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in detection and enforcement.
“Detecting impairment is not difficult, but unfortunately, prosecuting these cases can be more challenging. In 2010, a Seated Battery of Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) was developed and rolled out across the country which allows impairment testing to be conducted out on the water prior to bringing the individual back to shore,” said Todd Radabaugh, NASBLA BUI Program Manager. “Since then, thousands of law enforcement officers have been trained in an effective battery of field sobriety tests to detect impairment regardless of the drug that the person is under the influence of.”
Keeping drugs and alcohol off of the water completely is critical to a safe boating environment, along with wearing a life jacket, using an engine cut-off switch and taking a boating education course prior to getting on the water.
Operation Dry Water (ODW) is produced under a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard and is a product of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
*2021 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics
**2019 NASBLA Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Research Report
Taylor Matsko, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, 859.225.9487, [email protected]
SOURCE National Association of State Boating Law Administrators