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DEEP to crack down on drunken boaters

By Judy Benson

Publication: theday.com

Published June 27. 2013 11:00AM   Updated June 27. 2013 1:29PM

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Environmental Conservation Police will be stepping up enforcement activities this weekend on those who may be boating under the influence, DEEP announced today.

EnCon Police officers will participate in Operation Dry Water and will be out in force Friday through Sunday looking for boaters with a blood alcohol content exceeding the state limit of .08 percent. Operation Dry Water will include statewide increased patrols and checkpoints, as well as boater education efforts. Impaired boaters can expect penalties to be severe, DEEP said in a news release. In Connecticut they include fines, jail and loss of boating privileges.

"We intend to educate as many boaters as possible about the hazards of Boating while Under the Influence and make arrests if need be," said Captain Ryan Healy of the EnCon Police and spokesperson for the Operation Dry Water Campaign. "If you are caught boating under the influence, you will, face the consequences. We want recreational boaters to enjoy themselves, but there will be zero tolerance for BUI."

Boating while Under the Influence continues to be a major problem in Connecticut and nationwide. In Connecticut last year, 67 percent (four of six reportable accidents) of boating accidents that resulted in fatalities were alcohol-related and 29 percent (six of 21 reportable accidents) of accidents with injuries were alcohol-related, DEEP said. A boat operator or even passengers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more probable and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.

Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide prior to the July 4th holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season. For information, visit: www.operationdrywater.org or the DEEP website at http://www.ct.gov/deep/enconpolice.

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