CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reminding people to be cautious while on the water this holiday weekend.
TWRA is participating in Operation Dry Water, July 5-7.
Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.
Operation Dry Water is held annually near the Fourth of July holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season. The TWRA is teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Operation Dry Water was started by the NASBLA in 2009. It has been a highly successful campaign drawing public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence.
News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant was out with TWRA crews today to get a first-hand look of Operation Dry Water on Watauga Lake in Carter County.
TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with the use of life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the effects and ramifications of alcohol use. The TWRA will be intensifying efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“When you’re on the water the environmental factors with the sun and the water, dehydration and everything kind of increases the effects of alcohol and drugs. So it might not take as much compared to a vehicle to make someone impaired on the water. If an individual is impaired based on the officers’ interaction on their field sobriety test, what they see with that individual operating a vessel is they can still be arrested for boating under the influence. We like to see people out on the water having fun, but make sure if you are going to be drinking make sure you to have a sober operator to get you back safely,” said Wildlife Officer Ryan Rosier.
In 2018, during Operation Dry Water, there were nine boating under the influence (BUI) arrests across Tennessee.
Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. Penalties may include fines, jail, boat impoundment and the loss of boat driving privileges.
TWRA says alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational” boater deaths.”
Fish Springs Marina employees say they won’t rent boats to people who are intoxicated.
“We won’t send anybody out that’s been intoxicated, and if we see open containers we won’t let them on either. Keep down the drinking. Don’t be too intoxicated while you’re out there driving. You could get somebody hurt,” said Jared Andrews.