Operation Dry Water: Don't Drink and Boat: Save the Party for When You're Safely Docked

by By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Photo by Josh Withers Photo by Josh Withers

PANAMA CITY, FL-The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will join the national Operation Dry Water campaign, a year-round effort to educate recreational boaters on the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. From July 4-6, FWC and other law enforcement partners will focus on Boating Under the Influence (BUI) detection and enforcement.

Since its inception in 2009, Operation Dry Water looks to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities on the water. The FWC has been a key participant and will continue its role in protecting lives, promoting safe boating practices, ensuring legal compliance, and creating responsible boaters.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a major contributor to boating accidents. Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water. Both legal and illegal drugs impair judgment and reaction time, potentially leading to serious injuries and consequences. In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, the same limit as for vehicle operation.

During the Operation Dry Water weekend, boating safety advocates, volunteers, and law enforcement personnel will collaborate to educate boaters on safe boating practices at marinas and on the water across the U.S. The FWC and other participating law enforcement agencies will work to identify and remove dangerous or impaired vessel operators. Last year, FWC law enforcement officers removed 94 impaired operators from Florida waterways during Operation Dry Water.

“The Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest boating holidays in the country,” said Col. Brian Smith, Director of FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement. “With more than a million registered recreational vessels in Florida, our officers are committed to ensuring the safety of everyone on the water. We will be educating the public in the days leading up to the holiday and will increase patrols statewide looking for any signs of boater impairment.”

The FWC reminds boaters that the best way to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water is to remain sober and alert, wear a life jacket, and take a boating education course.

More information about boating and boating regulations in Florida can be found at MyFWC.com/Boating . Learn more about boating under the influence and the Operation Dry Water campaign by visiting OperationDryWater.org .

For FWC 2023 Boating Accident Statistics, visit MyFWC.com/Boating and click on “Boating Accidents.”