News Releases

FWC supports 'Operation Dry Water' for 2nd year

News Release

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Media contact: Capt. Carol Keyser, 850-488-5600

It may seem like an oxymoron, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants Florida waters to remain dry this summer. "Dry," as in free of alcohol, that is.

"More than 26 percent of Florida's fatal boating accidents in 2009 were the result of alcohol or drug use," said Capt. Carol Keyser, of the FWC's Boating and Waterways section. "Boaters who have had too much to drink or who are impaired by drugs are a great danger to the boating public."

The FWC is making every effort to decrease the number of accidents to keep Florida waters safe. This weekend, the FWC, the U.S. Coast Guard and state and local law enforcement agencies are participating in "Operation Dry Water" - a nationwide public-education effort aimed at reducing boating under the influence (BUI) incidents and the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.

"We know that increased officer effort reduces boating accidents and saves lives. Saving lives is what 'Operation Dry Water' is really all about," Keyser said.

2009 was the inaugural year for this effort. Agencies in 51 states and U.S. territories participated, and nearly 300 impaired boaters were taken off the water before they could kill or injure themselves or someone else.  The program's effectiveness last year led to another year of the "Operation Dry Water" effort this year.

Boating under the influence includes not only the effects of drinking alcohol, but also the effects that drugs - prescribed and otherwise - may cause. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs a boat operator's vision and reaction time. Sun, wind, fatigue and other conditions can intensify the effects alcohol or drugs have on a boater. Intoxicated boaters are susceptible to injuries or falling overboard because of impaired coordination and balance.

"Anticipate increased patrols for BUI violators by the FWC and local marine units," Keyser said. "We also will be educating the public about other aspects of safe boating. In addition to remaining sober while operating a vessel, boaters are reminded to abide by all applicable navigation rules, have all the required safety equipment onboard, and to wear a life jacket at all times while on the water.

"If you're caught boating under the influence, you may be fined and jailed, your boat may seized, and you could lose your boating privileges," Keyser said. "But most importantly, you are risking your life, the lives of your passengers and the lives of other persons out on the water.

"We are setting the tone for the summer. We want everyone to have a great time and stay safe on the water," Keyser said. "Boaters are responsible for making decisions that keep themselves and others safe. Drinking while operating a boat is a careless decision that can result in a tragic ending to an otherwise wonderful day on the water."

For more information, please visit www.operationdrywater.org or MyFWC.com/Boating.



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