SEBASTIAN – The number of boating arrests this month related to operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is on the rise in Sebastian and Vero Beach.
If you’re consuming too much alcohol while operating a boat in Sebastian or the waterways in Vero Beach, there’s a high probability that you will be arrested.
Most of the arrests by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) were at the public boat ramps where they surprised boaters as they returned with inspections.
This comes as FWC law enforcement will begin its “Operation Dry Water” campaign, a national effort against boating under the influence, starting next week.
During Operation Dry Water June 30-July 2, and extending through the July Fourth holiday, boaters can expect to see more officers on the water.
FWC officers will be out looking for boaters who choose to boat under the influence and removing them from the water.
“Although the national Operation Dry Water event goes through July 2, FWC law enforcement officers will be extending our efforts through the Independence Day holiday to help everyone have a fun and safe holiday weekend on the water,” said Maj. Robert Rowe, FWC’s Boating and Waterways section leader.
Increased awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence, along with officers focused on identifying impaired operators, aim to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating.
“A big part of enjoying Florida’s beautiful waterways is doing so safely and responsibly. 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,” said Rowe. “By participating in Operation Dry Water, the FWC joins 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.”
In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher. Alcohol use is one of the leading contributing factors in recreational boater deaths.
In 2016, July had more reportable accidents (96) and more fatal accidents (eight) than any other month.
Last year in Florida, 24 percent of fatal accident victims (16) were related to alcohol or drug use.
During the national Operation Dry Water weekend of heightened awareness and high-visibility enforcement, Sebastian and Vero Beach boaters can expect to see an enhanced law enforcement presence and increased messaging about this dangerous and preventable crime.