PHILADELPHIA -- The Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police are increasing their presence on the water to deter boating under the influence (BUI) prior to and during the Fourth of July weekend.
Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a year-round awareness and enforcement campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents and fatalities.
Over the next few days, Coast Guard boarding teams and NJSP law enforcement officers will focus on detecting impaired boaters and educating the public about the dangers of boating under the influence.
Alcohol use continues to be a leading contributing factor in recreational boating-related accidents, injuries and deaths.
“The dangers of boating under the influence are the same as those of driving a vehicle on the road,” said Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Crespo, Chief of Enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “Fifteen percent of all recreational boating deaths in 2016 involved alcohol. We want boaters to enjoy their day out, but we want to make sure it’s safe for them and others on the water.”
If you are caught operating a boat under the influence of intoxicants or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, you will be cited for a BUI.
Penalties for BUI are significant, say state law enforcement officials.
"If you are convicted of boating under the influence in New Jersey, not only do you lose your boating license, but you also lose your privilege to drive," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mottley, Deputy Superintendent of Homeland Security. "If you plan on enjoying one of Jersey's many waterways, wear a life jacket, boat responsibly, and have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend."
Tips to stay safe on the water:
• Avoid alcohol or consumption of other impairing substances
• Take a boating safety course
• Attach your engine cut-off switch
• Get a free vessel safety check
• Wear a life jacket
• File a float plan to let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return