Maine Marine Patrol to Focus on Boating Under the Influence

Augusta - The Maine Marine Patrol will be on heightened alert for those violating Maine's boating under the influence laws during the national Operation Drywater weekend, June 29-July 1.

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 Major Rene Cloutier.

"They will also be taking every opportunity possible to provide information on safe boating practices and the importance of wearing life jackets," said Major Cloutier. According to US Coast Guard statistics, 84.5 percent of drowning victims in 2017 were not wearing a life jacket.

Nationally, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. According to the US Coast Guard, in 2017, where the primary cause was known, alcohol use was the leading factor in 19 percent of boater deaths.

"Boating under the influence is a 100 percent preventable crime," said Major Cloutier. "The Maine Marine Patrol strongly encourages boaters to stay safe by staying sober while boating.

"Environmental stressors such as 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 canoes and rowboats to the largest ships.

In 2017, more than 7,000 officers from 628 agencies participated in the three-day weekend. Over the three-day weekend law enforcement officers contacted 243,853 boaters and made 518 BUI arrests. Agencies from all 56 U.S. states and territories participate in Operation Dry Water.

In 2017 the Maine Marine Patrol participated in Operation Drywater details along the Maine coast, checking 117 boats with 358 people on board resulting in three summonses and 43 warnings for boating violations, none of which were for BUI.

"Fortunately, we didn't have to remove anyone from the water for BUI," said Major Cloutier. "But it provided us with an opportunity to communicate with a lot of people about the importance of boating sober and safely."

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

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