Alcohol and boating make a bad cocktail; know the law

"Operation Dry Water" don't drink and boat

If you're one of the hundreds of boaters heading out on the water to celebrate the July 4 holiday, you may want to think twice before having too much booze.

Even though open containers are allowed on a boat if you over-indulge, you could end up in handcuffs, or worse.

According to U.S. Coast Guard, boating accidents went up 20 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year. Other statistics show that we have a higher rate of boating accidents than states like California and New York. 

Creston Gonzales is a dock hand at the Arlington Marina and he said since the start of the holiday weekend, boat traffic has really picked up.

But this time of year something else picks up in popularity, according to the The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: people drinking and boating.

"They will come in boats full of people and they’ll all be having a good time playing music,” Gonzales said.

Because of this uptick in alcohol consumption and boating authorities will be implementing Operation Dry Water.

It aims to cut down on boaters who are over the legal limit by ticketing and making arrests of people operating a boat with under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  It is not illegal for the boat operator to drink, however it is illegal to operate a boat while drunk, that’s considered a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, just like driving.

Holidays bring in a lot of newbie boaters unaware of how different operating a boat can be compared to driving.

“Driving a boat is a harder than driving a car because the road doesn’t move, your car wills stay still if you don’t move it but your boat is going to keep moving.  You have to be more alert or at least you should be,” said Gonzales.

Last year in the state of Florida, 24 percent of all boating deaths, 16 victims, were related to drug or alcohol use.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, but do it safely!
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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