PROVIDENCE – Safe boating patrols will be stepped up on June 26 to June 28 in a joint operation conducted by the Department of Environmental Management's Division of Law Enforcement. The effort is part of Operation Dry Water, a coordinated national crackdown on Boating Under the Influence (BUI). It is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related and drug-related accidents and fatalities, and making recreational boaters aware of the dangers of alcohol and drug use on the water.
During this annual three-day, heightened awareness and enforcement campaign, DEM environmental police officers will be out in full force on Rhode Island waterways, searching for boat operators whose blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the state limit of .08 percent. They join law enforcement agencies nationwide who will also be out in force, looking for boaters who choose to boat under the influence and removing them from the water. Increasing awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence, along with an increased number of officers on the water, aim to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating.
"It is our job as law enforcement officers to identify and remove drunk or impaired boaters from the water - so that everyone else can continue to have an enjoyable boating season, and not become a victim of boating under the influence. Protecting the public goes to the heart of our mission," said Lieutenant Steven Criscione of DEM's Division of Law Enforcement. "Our agency is participating in Operation Dry Water, and joining thousands of law enforcement officers nationwide, to decrease the number of accidents and deaths that come as a result of boaters who choose to drink and operate a boat. Operating a boat under the influence should be everyone's concern. Many boaters trailer their boats. An intoxicated boater, if undetected, could eventually get behind the wheel of a car and onto our highways. Regardless of whether you boat or not, we all have the potential to be affected by their actions," Criscione added.
In Rhode Island it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher - the same as it is to operate a vehicle. The RI Environmental Police want to remind boaters to stay safe this summer, by staying sober on the water. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths. During this national weekend of heightened awareness and high-visibility enforcement, boaters can expect to see more law enforcement presence and increased messaging about this dangerous and preventable crime.
Operation Dry Water is a joint program of DEM, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other partner agencies. For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit operationdrywater.org.