John McCoy is the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette’s award-winning outdoors writer. His "Woods & Waters" page appears weekly in the Sports section of the Sunday Gazette-Mail.
In 32 years of outdoors writing, John has had articles published in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Bowhunter, North American Whitetail, Hatches and other publications. His works have earned more than 50 state, regional and national awards for writing and photography.
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If you’re planning to go boating between June 24 and 26, you might want to go light on the booze.
From the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Section:
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Natural Resources Police Officers with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) will participate in Operation Dry Water and will be out in force June 24-26 looking for boaters whose Blood Alcohol Content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent. Operation Dry Water will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints as well as boater education.
“We intend to stop intoxicated boaters and to educate as many boaters as possible about the hazards of Boating Under the Influence (BUI),” said Lt. Tim Coleman, DNR’s State Boating Safety Program coordinator. DNR has added six additional patrol boats to its fleet this year and will be patrolling all major rivers and lakes during the boating season.
A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.
BUI is a primary contributing factor in nearly one in five boating fatalities nationwide, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Five boating-related fatalities have been recorded in West Virginia in 2011.
Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA ) in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.
“There will be arrests this weekend, and some boaters will face the consequences of boating under the influence,” said Lt. Coleman “We want recreational boaters to enjoy themselves, but there will be zero tolerance for BUI.”
Operation Dry Water is a joint program of the West Virginia DNR, NASBLA, the U.S. Coast Guard and several local law enforcement agencies.