ALEA joins national partners in Operation Dry Water

MONTGOMERY — Far too often, boating fun takes a fatal turn when alcohol is involved. Alcohol is, in fact, responsible for 21 percent of boating fatalities, making it the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths.

To combat this problem, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is teaming up with its national partners to fight Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and participating in Operation Dry Water on Friday, June 26, to Sunday, June 28. A year-round BUI awareness and enforcement campaign, the initiative includes heightened awareness during the weekend prior to the Fourth of July, a holiday known for drinking, boating – and deadly boating deaths.

Col. John E. Richardson is director of ALEA’s Department of Public Safety, which comprises Marine Patrol Division and Highway Patrol Division.  He said he hopes everyone has an enjoyable time on the water this summer. “We simply ask that all boaters take the pledge to never drink and drive a boat, to never be intoxicated on a boat, to never be irresponsible, to never endanger themselves or others, to never damage a boat, to never risk injury or death – and to never, ever, ever boat under the influence,” he said.

Operation Dry Water works to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.  Since the campaign’s 2009 launch, the number of boating fatalities with alcohol named as the contributing factor has decreased from 19 percent to 16 percent (in 2013) in the United States, according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the United States Coast Guard.

Richardson said it’s important for boaters to understand alcohol use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time, adding,

“Alcohol/drug use is dangerous for passengers, as well. Intoxication may cause slips, falls overboard and other dangerous incidents.”

Boaters under the influence not only endanger their own lives, but the lives of others.