The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement will be promoting awareness and conducting heightened enforcement targeting boating under the influence as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign this weekend.
FWC officers will be enforcing Florida’s boating under the influence laws and educating boaters about safe boating practices, which includes boating sober.
The Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest boating holidays all over the U.S., including here in Florida. In 2020, the month of July had nine fatalities and 53 people injured due to BUI related boating accidents.
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 blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher — the same as it is to operate a vehicle.
“If you are boating and choose to operate while impaired, you are endangering not only yourself, but your family, friends and other boaters on the water,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “FWC officers will be actively patrolling statewide looking for boaters who show signs of impairment. One of our primary missions is to ensure the safety of all those enjoying the state’s vast and diverse waterways. That is why the FWC is joining other states and agencies across the country to do our part in keeping boaters safe and preventing accidents related to boating under the influence.”
Alcohol is a leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths and a major contributor to accidents. Last year in Florida, 23% of fatal accidents were related to alcohol or drug use.
If a person decides to take alcohol on their voyage, it is important to designate an operator who isn’t drinking alcohol and will remain sober to ensure everyone gets home safely. The FWC encourages boaters to enjoy the boating season to its full extent by boating sober, wearing a life jacket and taking a boating education course.
The national Operation Dry Water weekend will take place July 2 through July 4. The mission of Operation Dry Water is to prevent alcohol and drug related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water.
For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Boating and OperationDryWater.org.
FWC 2020 Boating Accident Statistics: visit MyFWC.com/Boating and click on “Boating Accidents.”