FWC kicks off ‘Operation Dry Water’ Friday to crack down on drunk Florida boaters

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MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — The Fourth of July is a time for celebration, especially around Gulf Coast waterways. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants the public to celebrate responsibly.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission, or FWC, will kick off Operation Dry Water on Friday.

Operation Dry Water is a national year-round campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence. The 2020 Operation Dry Water enhanced awareness and enforcement three-day weekend will take place Friday through Sunday.

“Every officer throughout the state has been given the same message: look for impaired boaters,” said FWC public information officer Robert Ramos. “If they’re out there, we’re going to address it, and if we find somebody who is impaired, they are going to go to jail.”

Ramos said drinking while boating can be costly, especially during July when more boaters are out on the water.

“Last year, we had approximately five deaths, almost 60 folks injured and nearly $1 million worth of property damage all because of BUI — boating under the influence,” he said.

Ramos said despite what boaters may think, drinking while operating a boat has added stressors not involved in driving a regular vehicle, including the heat, winds and other elements out of their control.

Ramos warns that if you’re operating a vessel while intoxicated, you’re easy to find.

“We’re very well-trained. We spent a lot of time in our academy and focused efforts in looking impaired operators,” he said. “They’re not very difficult to stand out in a crowd of people who obeying navigation rules.”

Ramos encourages boaters to come out to the water and have a good time this weekend but have a designated driver. It could save lives.

“We want someone to have a designated driver on that vessel who abstains from alcohol,” he said. “Someone who can get the crew out there to the beach, to the ICW, to the sound, wherever they go, but at the end of the day, have everyone come back home safe and sound.”

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