The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) will be participating in Operation Dry Water from July 1-3. Operation Dry Water is a three-day period dedicated to enforcement and education regarding the dangers of impaired boating.
During the July 4th holiday, there is an increase in boater activity, and the TWRA will be on high alert for boating under the influence (BUI) infractions. Throughout the holiday period, law enforcement officers will also work to raise public awareness about the hazards of operating boats under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for both operators and passengers. Boaters will notice an overall increase in officer patrols on the water. The collaborative efforts of participating law enforcement agencies aim to remove impaired operators from the state’s waterways, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all boaters.
“Impaired operation is a 100 percent preventable crime that our wildlife officers take seriously each time they patrol our waterways,” said Lt. Col. Matt Majors of the Boating and Law Enforcement Division. “No warnings will be given. If you are found to be operating a vessel impaired by our officers, you will be arrested and face legal consequences.”
Starting July 1, BUI penalties will be aligned with DUI laws in terms of jail time, fines, and loss of boat operating privileges. The new law also clarifies that officers can obtain a search warrant for blood should someone refuse the implied consent portion of the law.
To support the enforcement and education initiative, the TWRA is partnering with the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Operation Dry Water was initiated by NASBLA in 2009 and has been a highly successful campaign drawing public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI).
Alcohol use remains the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Factors such as sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and certain medications. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, similar to operating a motor vehicle. Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, boat impoundment, and loss of boating privileges.
With July 4th falling on a Tuesday this year, the TWRA holiday period will begin at 6 p.m. (local time) on Friday, June 30, and continue through midnight on the 4th.