Law enforcement officers from two state agencies are calling their work during Operation Dry Water June 27-29 a success, after beefed-up patrols of Mississippi’s inland and coastal waters.
Operation Dry Water was a national initiative to bring awareness to the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI).
On the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources’ Marine Patrol reported its officers interacted with 184 boats and a total of 626 boaters, and issued only one BUI citation.
“With the number of people and vessels we checked, we were pleased with the compliance,” said Lt. Col. Rusty Pittman, assistant chief of Marine Patrol. “A campaign like Operation Dry Water is beneficial because it educates people about the importance of following safety regulations, as well as the consequences of boating under the influence.”
Pittman said DMR officers did issue 24 boating citations and investigated one boating accident without injury.
Inshore, Major Jerry Carter of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks said the agency had 80 officers in boats during the Operation Dry Water campaign.
“We were on the water throughout the state, with an emphasis on Northern and Central areas,” Carter said, referring to area with the largest bodies of water. “We had four BUI citations and issued several other boating-related violations such as safety equipment and lights. Our being on the water helps bring attention to boating safety.”
And, it seems to be working on the national level, too.
Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard to help draw attention to the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
From 2009 to 2013, there was a 37 percent decrease in the number of recreational boater deaths where alcohol use was listed as the known primary contributing factor, according to the U.S. Coast Guard recreational boating statistics.
From 2012 to 2013, there was a 31 percent decrease in the number of alcohol-related recreational boater deaths — the most significant decrease in the past five years.