SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California State Parks will be part of the more than 40 California marine law enforcement agencies joining hundreds of enforcement agencies across the United States to increase patrols and/or carry out Boating Under the Influence (BUI) checkpoints on July 5-7 over the Independence Day holiday weekend. Dubbed Operation Dry Water (ODW), the enforcement program’s goal is to help reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents and fatalities and foster a stronger, more visible deterrent to boating under the influence.
California and U.S. Coast Guard recreational boating statistics repeatedly show the Fourth of July as the deadliest holiday for accidents. Alcohol was a contributing factor in over 30 percent of California’s boating fatalities over the past five years where testing was conducted. Nationally, alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
“Our waterways during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday will be crowded,” says Division of Boating and Waterways Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “Accidents that happen when an operator is impaired can hurt many people. Everyone onboard a boat is at risk when an operator uses alcohol and/or drugs while boating. It can also be deadly when passengers are drunk, as they can fall overboard or be the cause of distracted driving.”
The Division of Boating and Waterways partners with the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to provide ODW outreach. One national public service announcement, “Boating Under the Influence Hurts More People Than Just You” recounts a tragic and preventable 2012 Northern California accident. “This drunk driver hit our family’s boat and killed our mom and sister,” says Brock and Alek Peterlin, in a 30-second video message. The brothers, along with their uncle, Brian Korek, tell their story of what happened that day when their mother and sister did not return home from boating on Lake Englebright. “Two people died, one man lost his house and went to prison; families have been torn apart by tragedy.”
It is against the law in California to operate a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. Officers may arrest boaters with a BAC less than 0.08 percent if conditions are deemed unsafe. BUI convictions can result in up to six months in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000. Two convictions within seven years could add a jail term of up to one year. Boaters caught operating under the influence may also have their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded.
This year’s Operation Dry Water California participants include:
California State Parks and Recreation Areas
Folsom Lake (within Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties)
Lake Oroville (Butte County)
Lake Perris (Riverside County)
Millerton Lake (Fresno County)
City Police Departments
Long Beach Port Division
South Lake Tahoe
County Sheriff Departments
Butte Los Angeles Solano
Contra Costa Madera Sonoma
El Dorado Mono Stanislaus
Fresno Placer Tehama
Glenn Plumas Tulare
Imperial San Bernardino Yolo
Lake San Joaquin Yuba
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Englebright Lake (Yuba and Nevada counties)
U.S. Coast Guard Stations
Bodega Bay Humboldt Bay
Channel Islands Harbor Lake Tahoe
Dorado (Crescent City) Los Angeles-Long Beach
Golden Gate Monterey
Halibut (Southern Coast) Morro Bay
Rio Vista San Francisco
San Diego Vallejo
A map of participating agencies with their contact information can be found at: http://www.operationdrywater.org/agencies. California specific boating laws and safety tips may be found at: www.BoatCalifornia.com.
Launched in 2009 by NASBLA in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, ODW has been a highly successful 10-year campaign, drawing public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Since the campaign began, law enforcement officers have removed more than 3,500 BUI operators from the nation’s waterways and made contact with more than 1.3 million boaters during the annual three-day weekend.