Friday, June 25, 2010

Operation Aims To Keep Collier Waters ‘Dry’

Starting this weekend, boaters can expect to see stepped up enforcement on Collier County waters.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is teaming up with area law enforcement agencies to crack down on boat operators under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Operation Dry Water is the second annual national crackdown. The goal is to educate boat drivers before the traditionally busy Fourth of July weekend and to get under-the-influence boat drivers off the water.

Boating under the influence is still one of the leading factors in fatal boating accidents, with 17 percent of boating fatalities a direct result of alcohol or drug use, according to most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

CCSO’s Marine Unit deputies will be stepping up patrols on the local waterways over the coming two weekends to remind boaters that operating a boat while under the influence is just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk.

In Florida, boaters are in violation of the law if they have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher -- the same standard for motorists.

Penalties for BUI include fines, jail, impoundment of the boat, and loss of boating privileges.

Last year, in the first nationwide Operation Dry Water campaign, officers across the country talked to17,454 boaters, issued 5,320 boating safety warnings and arrested 283 people suspected of operating while drunk.