The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be saturating Tennessee waterways during Operation Dry Water, June 30 – July 2. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.
Boating enforcement officers have already been particularly busy in East Tennessee this year. TWRA spokesperson Matthew Cameron said out of the 50 statewide BUI arrests made this boating season, 25 have come from East Tennessee waterways. The dangers of Boating Under the Influence have also become increasingly apparent following a boating accident on Ft. Loudoun Lake earlier this month.
The TWRA is teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with the use of life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the effects and ramifications of alcohol use. The TWRA will be intensifying efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In 2016 during Operation Dry Water, there were 10 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests across the state. TWRA boating officers checked more than 4,000 vessels, issued 175 citations, 113 warnings, and assisted 94 boaters. There were four injury accidents and three property damage accidents reported.
Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. Penalties may include fines, jail, boat impoundment and the loss of boat driving privileges. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.
For more information visit the Operation Dry Water website.