Operation Dry Water to crack down on impaired boat operators

Published: Jun. 30, 2017 at 8:54 PM EDT
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The countdown to Independence Day has begun and as we grow closer to the holiday, more and more people will hitting not just the roadways, but also the waterways.

With that increased boating traffic, law enforcement says they'll be stepping up to make sure it's done sober and safely.

Operation Dry Water is a nationwide campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol and drug related accidents on the water.

In the east, wildlife officers and other agencies say they're going to be working to keep everyone safe.

Wildlife Officer Tyler Ingle says they'll be working with the U.S. Coast Guard to keep those who've been drinking or using drugs away from waterways.

Ingle says the waves and heat can impair a sober person, making them feel nauseous or dizzy. When you add alcohol into the mix, it can be deadly.

Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher is against federal law.

Ingle also says they'll be watching for boaters driving too fast in no wake zones.

"Speed is a big primary factor, I mean you've got to factor in all the boat traffic that's going to be out there for that weekend, but, I mean speed, there's no brakes on a boat, so you can't stop a boat real quick," Ingle explains. "So you need to adjust your speed according to the wave conditions and your experience level."

Ingle also says while out on the water, speed can also severely injure someone who is not on a boat, but rather swimming, paddle boarding or on a jet ski, so it's important to be aware of your surroundings.

Wildlife officers say they can and will administer breathalyzers to those they have suspicions of being over the legal limit.

The most recent U.S. Coast Guard data revealed alcohol use remains the primary known contributing factor to recreational boater deaths.