The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will again put the spotlight on boating under the influence this weekend in advance of the July 4th holiday.
Georgia is participating in this year’s “Operation Dry Water.”
DNR Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Weaver said that “Operation Dry Water” is a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence.
“This is targeting the weekend before the July 4th holiday because that is a major boating event of the year, so just to get the word out, be seen before that, put the seed in folks’ minds to not operate under the influence,” said Weaver.
“Operation Dry Water” also aims to bring awareness and education to recreational boaters about the dangers of alcohol and drug use on the water.
In Georgia, officials have stressed a new tougher BUI standard. Under new state laws, anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher in Georgia that is operating a boat is considered boating under the influence.
Weaver said he feels the message about the new BUI standard has gotten out to the public.
In addition, he said he feels it has been a positive change on the waterways.
“So far this year, we have taken 71 boaters off of the water who were under the influence,” said Weaver. “The new law, (making the level) .08 from the .10, that is an additional six boaters that have been removed from the waterways for boating under the influence. It is a good tool. The majority of boaters are above the .10 level, but it is a good change.”
Weaver went on to say that BUI enforcement is not just a one-weekend effort, adding that authorities will be out throughout the July 4th holiday and all summer long.
He encouraged boaters to stay safe on the water.
“You probably will see an enforcement officer out on the water,” said Weaver. “If you are obeying the rules and minding your business, then you are not probably going to have any contact with us. Do be careful out there. Look out for the other person and be safe.”
For more information about boating in Georgia, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com.