DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said the first day of August put the total number of boating under the influence arrests at a record high.
OCSO reported 83 BUI arrests in 2021, ranking at the top spot for most arrests in the state of Florida. On August 2, 2022, OCSO said they have 87 arrests to date.
“This county has always been in the top ten in vessel crashes and fatalities in the entire state,” said Sargeant Kyle Corbitt with the OCSO marine unit. “That’s our goal with us at the Sheriff’s Office and with Florida wildlife and the US Coast Guard, you know we’re a force multiplier here in our county to get us out of that top ten with vessel crashes because a majority of our vessel crashes and crashes involving fatalities tend to involve alcohol.”
In a video release, OCSO showcased the marine patrol unit around Crab island and local waterways. OCSO has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and boating.
“Making sure you have a responsible operator, a sober operator, whenever you do go out on the water and make sure just like if you go out to a bar or something you designate somebody to drive your car home if you have a little bit too much to drink,” said Sgt. Corbitt.
OCSO said while numbers are up on arrests, so are the number of boats being rented. Sgt. Corbitt said the unit focus is on educating these new boaters on how to operate vessels as well as keep people safe.
“We’re definitely seeing the commercial, the rental companies have increased throughout the county,” said Sgt. Corbitt. “We’re not just seeing it just locally in Destin Harbor or in Destin, now we’re seeing it over in Fort Walton. We’re seeing it in Niceville, seen it over by the Mid Bay Bridge. And so just the boating population and the boating activities has increased drastically over the past two years since COVID.”