In joining the national effort to deter drug and alcohol related accidents on America’s highways, California’s law enforcement will also direct its attention to reduce the number of boating under the influence, BUI, accidents on the water, according to a news release.
The Division of Boating and Waterways will be conducting this through Operation Dry Water, which is intended to launch prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
“California’s waterways during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday will be crowded,” said Ramona Fernandez, Division of Boating and Waterways Acting Deputy Director/Boating Law Administrator. “It is critical that boat operators be sober and attentive of their surroundings to safely react to unforeseen circumstances. Designating a sober passenger to help check unsafe behaviors is helpful. It is also important to know that even drunken passengers are at risk. They can easily fall overboard, swim near a propeller or lean over the side.”
Beginning Jun 29 and lasting until Jul 1, there will be a growing number of patrolling and BUI checkpoints just ahead of the holiday with the most boating accidents, according to California and US Coast Guard recreational boating statistics. Tests concluded over the past five years that 31 percent of boating fatalities in California occurred when alcohol was a contributing factor.
Operating a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration, BAC, of 0.08 percent is considered illegal, while there is no open container law for recreational boaters.
Risks while onboard and intoxicated include impaired judgment, reaction time, vision and balance; increased fatigue and susceptible to the effects of being immersed in cold water; boating stressors are intensified, such as wind, noise, sun and vibration; and greater side effects in consuming drugs, alcohol and prescription medications.
Participants in Operation Dry Water include the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles-Long Beach Coast Guard Stations. For a full list of state and national participants, go to Operation Dry Water’s website. Further information on California boating laws and safety can be found at www.BoatCalifornia.com.
If convicted of a BUI, the results include up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine, along with termination of the boater’s voyage and his/her vessel impounded.
The above information was obtained by The Signal via a news release provided by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.