News: Coast Guard urges safety following Operation Dry Water
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone
NEW YORK — The Coast Guard reminds boaters to continue to operate their vessels in a safe manner for the Fourth of July weekend following last week’s Operation Dry Water (ODW). As part of ODW, Station New York and partner agencies increased their presence on the Hudson River and nearby waterways to deter boating while intoxicated (BWI).
ODW is an annual nationwide, interagency marine law enforcement mission, which aims to promote greater awareness of the risks and dangers of drinking and boating. Ultimately, the purpose of ODW is to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents, injuries and deaths among recreational boaters through education and increasing the visibility of maritime law enforcement the weekend before Fourth of July, a holiday known for drinking and boating.
Nationwide, alcohol continues to be the leading contributing factor in all fatal recreational boating accidents. Because of this high-risk behavior, states across the nation have increased enforcement of BWI laws. Operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is against federal and New York and New Jersey state laws. Boaters caught operating their vessel under the influence will have their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded. Additionally, penalties can include arrest, fines, loss of boating privileges and even loss of driving privileges.
This year Coast Guard Station New York joined police from Union County, Westchester County, Green County, and New York State, as well as Ulster County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Parks Police, resulting in the largest local interagency participation in ODW to date. This past weekend's local ODW efforts resulted in more than 80 vessel safety boardings, one termination of a voyage, and an arrest of a Nyack man by the Westchester County Marine Unit on charges of operating a speedboat under the Tappan Zee Bridge while intoxicated.
"Although we want mariners to have a good time on the water, boater safety is paramount." said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ana Radolinski, a boarding officer at Coast Guard Station New York. "Even without alcohol, motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and sea spray can fatigue a boater and cause them to become impaired more quickly than when driving a car on land. When out on the water, always designate a competent vessel operator who can safely navigate without impairment."
Since Operation Dry Water began in 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) have collected data that shows that this event has had a significant impact on educating recreational boaters about, and reducing the occurrences of, boating while intoxicated.
As we approach this upcoming holiday weekend, Petty Officer 1st Class Jordan Wagstaff, assistant operations officer at Coast Guard Station New York reminds us, "While Operation Dry Water 2014 is over, we will continue to have officers patrolling New York Harbor in order to keep the boating community safe and aggressively seek out those who would create an unsafe environment for the public by boating while intoxicated."
For more information about Boating Under the Influence initiatives, visit www.uscgboating.org.
For more information about Operation Dry Water, visit www.operationdrywater.org.