“Operation Dry Water” will focus on Boating Safety and Alcohol-Free Recreation this weekend in the Sierra Lakes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – This weekend, many law enforcement agencies across the nation and in California will be out in force on waterways looking for drunken boat operators. This heightened vigilance, known as Operation Dry Water, is part of a national effort to change the cultural acceptance of drinking and boating, and raise awareness that boaters can have safe and fun recreational boating experiences without the use of alcohol and/or drugs. California will also emphasize the dangers that drunken passengers face.

Since the launch of Operation Dry Water in 2009, the number of recreational boating fatalities with alcohol named as a contributing factor has decreased in the United States. As of 2015, the national alcohol-related boating fatality rate was 21 percent. In California, alcohol use remains a leading contributing factor in boating deaths. The state’s recreational boating accident statistics show that over the past five years (2011-2015), 33 percent of boating fatalities were alcohol-related (when tests were conducted).

“One quick way to end a weekend of fun with family and friends is mixing boating and alcohol,” said California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways Boating Law Administrator Ramona Fernandez. “It is a deadly cocktail that can lead to operator inattention and passengers falling overboard.”

Designating a driver is not enough on vessels. The concept works well in cars, but drunken passengers on boats can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller or cause loading problems by leaning over the side or standing up in small vessels, causing vessels to capsize. The potential for drowning also goes up if life jackets are not worn.

Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effect of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – “stressors” common to the boating environment – intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.

In California, it is against the law to operate a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. A person with a BAC less than 0.08 percent may also be arrested if conditions are deemed to be unsafe. If convicted, a person may be sentenced to jail for up to six months and assessed fines of up to $1,000. Two convictions within seven years could add a jail term of up to one year.

Boaters caught operating under the influence may also find their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded. Twenty-seven law enforcement entities from California will be participating in this year’s Operation Dry Water campaign. Below is the list of participating entities and their contact information:

California State Parks:

  • Folsom Lake State Recreation Area Rich Preston [email protected] (916) 988-0205boat lake tahoe you tube shot
  • Lake Oroville State Recreation Area Aaron Wright, Superintendent [email protected] (530) 538-2200

County Sheriff’s Offices