AUGUSTA — Planning a boat ride this weekend with that ice chest full of cold beer? Think again.
The Maine Warden Service and Maine Marine Patrol will be participating in Operation Dry Water this weekend (June 25-27). It’s part of a national coordinated effort of stepped-up law enforcement looking for boat operators who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or whose blood alcohol concentration exceeds the state limit. In Maine, the limit is 0.08 percent.
Operation Dry Water will include increased patrols looking for impaired operation, and also will focus on boater education and safety. Those operators who have been consuming will be subjected to field sobriety testing and, if warranted, breathalyzer analysis.
“We want people to have fun while boating,” said Maine Warden Service Lt. Adam Gormely. “But boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs has become the leading contributing factor in fatal recreational boating accidents. For safety, we recommend that all boaters avoid drinking alcoholic beverages or using drugs, and we will have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs on Maine’s waters.”
Boating under the influence can lead to another serious criminal violation — driving under the influence — as impaired boaters may leave waterways, get into their vehicles and travel on roads. The Maine Warden Service, Maine Marine Patrol and Maine State Police this summer are airing public service announcements on television and the Internet reminding boat operators to not drink and drive or boat.
The public service announcement can be viewed at www.mefishwildlife.com
Operation Dry Water is in its second year, and is set for the weekend preceding the Fourth of July holiday weekend. During last year’s Operation Dry Water effort in Maine, five citations were issued for operating under the influence while boating, including one to a boater whose blood-alcohol level was 0.21, and 117 boaters were given safety warnings.
“There will be arrests this weekend, and some boaters will face the consequences of operating under the influence while boating,” Gormely said. “But we’d much rather arrest someone than to have to tell their family and friends that they’re never coming back.”
For more information, visit www.operationdrywater.org