FWC conducting crackdown on impaired boaters this weekend

Posted at 6:08 AM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-25 12:47:56-04

If you have plans out on the water this weekend, you’ll want to be extra careful.

Starting Friday, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will take part in the national “Operation Dry Water” campaign.

The three-day event focuses on deterring boaters from boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

With the 4th of July holiday right around the corner, FWC says it is important for people to know that they should not be impaired while operating a boat. Just like driving, boaters must be below the BAC of .08.

“It is our job as law enforcement officers to identify and remove impaired boaters from the water so that everyone else can continue to have an enjoyable boating season and not become a victim of boating under the influence. Protecting the public goes to the heart of our mission,” said Maj. Richard Moore, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader.

Will Beck and his yellow sea tow boats have their work cut out for them on busy summer weekends like this one 

"We're already starting to get busy," said Beck.

He's been towing and rescuing boats since 1985.

"In 31 years time, we've certainly seen a number of tragic accidents that are very very avoidable," said Beck.

He says boating under in the influence is one of the most avoidable mistakes.

"If the boaters just decide to you for instance are going to be a designated operator and you're not going to be drinking today," said Beck.

Thousands of local, state and federal law enforcement officers are participating in "Operation Dry Water" around the country. Last year, the national effort led to thousands of warnings and hundreds of BUI arrests. The goal is to keep everyone safe on the water. 
We met Gary McKanick, of Wellington, as he headed to his sailboat.

"It's like driving a car on the water, even though you have no lines like on the roads you ought to be alert and vigilant," said McKanick. "It's a very, very good thing."

We spoke with Cherry Keller, a part-time Boca Raton Resident, before she headed out kayaking with her daughter and son-in-law. "I'm glad they're cracking down," she said. 

“Our agency is participating in Operation Dry Water, and joining thousands of law enforcement officers nationwide to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and deaths that come as a result of boaters who choose to drink and boat.”

Boaters can expect to see an enhanced law enforcement presence and increased messaging about this dangerous and preventable crime.

The FWC says it plans to step up patrols again for the 4th of July holiday weekend, one of the busiest boating weekends of the year.