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FWC: 'Operation Dry Water' sails into action in Florida

Officers will enforce boating under the influence laws, encourage safety

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's law enforcement division will be patrolling the waterways targeting those who operate a boat under the influence. It's part of a national campaign called Operation Dry Water.

FWC officers will focus on educating boaters about safe practices on the water, which includes boating sober and ensuring all vessels have appropriate safety equipment.

The Fourth of  July holiday is one of the busiest for boating, according to the FWC.  In 2017, a total of 944,162 boats were registered in Florida, with an estimated 1 million additional non-registered boats enjoying Florida’s waters. And last year, July had 113 reportable accidents and 11 fatal accidents ,which was more than any other month.

Alcohol is a leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths, and a major contributor to accidents. Last year in Florida, out of the 67 fatal accident victims, 24 percent (16) were linked to alcohol or drug use according to the FWC. 

“The accidents and tragedies that happen because individuals choose to drive drunk or impaired, on land or on the water, are preventable. The decision lies with the individual on whether they choose to operate a boat or vehicle while under the influence,” says Maj. Robert Rowe, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader.

“As law enforcement, it is our job to do all we can to ensure the safety of our recreational boaters and paddlers. 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.”

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 on land.