Maine Marine Patrol to Focus on Boating Under the Influence and Boating Safety During 4th of July Weekend

Augusta - The Maine Marine Patrol will be looking out for anyone violating Maine's boating under the influence laws and sharing safety information during the national Operation Dry Water weekend, July 2-July 4.

Operation Dry Water is a national awareness and enforcement campaign coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) that focuses on deterring boaters from boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs or alcohol.

"Marine Patrol Officers will be conducting patrols on Maine's coastal waters from Kittery to the Canadian border focused on boaters who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs," said Maine Marine Patrol Colonel Jay Carroll.

According to the US Coast Guard, in 2019, alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in the US.

"Boating under the influence is a completely preventable crime," said Colonel Carroll. "The Maine Marine Patrol strongly encourages boaters to stay safe by staying sober while boating."

Environmental stressors such as sun, wind, noise, and the movement of the boat while on the water intensify the effects of alcohol or drug use on an individual while boating. Boaters can become impaired more quickly on the water than on land.

Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against the law in Maine. BUI laws pertain to all vessels, from rowboats and kayaks to the largest ships.

More than 600 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies participated in the 2020 Operation Dry Water campaign across the US. Over the course of the campaigns heightened awareness and enforcement weekend, July 3 - 5, more than 7,600 law enforcement officers made 625 arrests for boating under the influence (BUI).

In 2020 the Maine Marine Patrol checked hundreds of recreational boats during Operation Dry Water details along the Maine coast, which resulted in 28 citations for boating violations and no boating under the influence cases.

"We took the opportunity to talk with a lot of people about the importance of boating sober and safely, and we will do the same this year," said Marine Patrol Major Rob Beal.

"Marine Patrol will also encourage safe boating practices, especially the importance of wearing life jackets," said Major Beal. According to 2019 US Coast Guard statistics, 86 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.

In Maine, all children 10 and under must wear a life jacket. Adults don't have to wear them, but they must be available on board for every occupant.

Marine Patrol officers will also be sharing the safety message with paddlers. "Maine's ocean temperatures, even in the height of the summer, can be extremely cold, and the weather can change very quickly," said Major Beal. "We strongly encourage paddlers to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. We also urge paddlers to check with organizations like the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guide Instructors for information on safe paddling."

For more information on recreational boating safety, visit the Maine Department of Marine Resources website.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit operationdrywater.org.