Coast Guard promotes safe and sober boating

Operation Dry Water

Operation Dry Water is a nationwide campaign run each year to draw attention to the dangers of boating while under the influence of alcohol and the efforts of the Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies across the U.S. Boating under the influence can ruin a great day on the water and 19% of boating fatalities are a result of alcohol use.

Story by Caitlin Goettler

The rare sunshine in Southeast Alaska sent many boaters out on the water from June 22-24, but they weren’t the only ones. Coast Guard Sector Juneau teamed up with the Alaska State Troopers and the Juneau Police Department to step up their enforcement of boating under the influence laws as part of Operation Dry Water, a national weekend designed to increase awareness and detection of impaired boating.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau units were out actively patrolling and were pleased to find everyone was safe and sober.

“Thankfully we did not observe or receive any reports of intoxicated boating,” said Cmdr. Marc Burd, Sector Juneau chief of response. “We commend the boaters of Southeast Alaska for enjoying the beautiful weather in a safe and responsible manner.”

Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment and reaction time and continues to be a leading cause in recreational boating accidents, injuries and death. It can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.

“Boating under the influence is very similar to driving under the influence, even though it is perceived to be much less dangerous by the general public,” said Lt. Steve Hall, an Alaska State Wildlife Trooper in Juneau. “Often times the people we find boating under the influence are people who would never consider getting into a car after drinking.”

However, Alaska makes no distinction between drunken boaters and drunken drivers in terms of the law. Those found to be boating under the influence can be charged with a DUI and could face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The Alaska State Troopers are the primary agency responsible for enforcing Alaska’s BUI laws but work closely with the Coast Guard and local law enforcement to ensure safety on the water.

Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the Coast Guard. Today, law enforcement officials in all 50 States and six U.S. territories participate in the designated national weekend.

More information on Operation Dry Water can be found at www.operationdrywater.org.

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