Nashville, Tennessee — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and the U.S. Coast Guard today kicked off the national Operation Dry Water (ODW) weekend ahead of the July 4th holiday.
Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a year-round boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign aimed at reducing the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities on the water. The 2022 national ODW heightened awareness and enforcement weekend takes place July 2 through July 4, when law enforcement officers and agencies across the nation will be out to educate boaters on safe boating practices and conduct targeted enforcement on the water. Officers will be on high alert for violations of boating under the influence laws.
“Each year, we see injuries and fatalities on the water that tragically could have been prevented had operators and passengers chosen to boat sober,” said Taylor Matsko, NASBLA Communications & Marketing Director. “The Operation Dry Water campaign works with our local, state and federal partners to eliminate boating under the influence and the injuries and deaths caused by it. We encourage every boater to keep themselves and others on the water safe by choosing to stay sober while boating and ensuring everyone on board is wearing a life jacket.”
In May, MADD launched its first-ever boating under the influence (BUI) campaign, “BUI = DUI, Know Before You Boat,” aimed at eliminating the tragedies caused by boating under the influence. The campaign was led by National President Alex Otte, who was nearly killed by a drunk boater on July 2, 2010, when she was 13 years old.
“This weekend marks 12 years since the crash that didn’t have to happen. Someone else’s choice to drink and get behind the wheel of a boat robbed me of my right leg, and very nearly my life. MADD wants everyone to understand that a boat is a vehicle, and that boating under the influence is driving under the influence,” Otte said. “Impairment by alcohol or any other drugs on the water is extremely dangerous, and crashes like mine are 100% preventable.”
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, during the month of July, the highest total number of recreational boating incidents happen across the nation and alcohol is a leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading contributing factor in 16% of deaths in 2021.
“Boating under the influence remains a leading contributing factor in fatal boating incidents. Impaired operators can face harsh civil and criminal penalties. We want to remind all boaters that while out on the water they should abide by all rules and laws to help keep themselves and others safe,” said Marine Science Technician, 3rd Class Petty Officer, Ben Gardner.
Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against federal law and most state laws.
A boater is likely to become impaired more quickly than an automobile driver, and even moderate drinking can cause significant impairment on the water. The environmental stressors of the marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray – accelerate the impairing impact of alcohol. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boater’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when consuming alcohol. “With recreational boating on the minds of everyone this holiday weekend, TWRA is proud to partner with MADD and NASBLA/ODW to highlight one of the most serious crimes we see on our waterways. As we continue to combat impaired boating in Tennessee, our law enforcement partners throughout the country also have the same goal of reducing injuries and fatalities caused by this senseless crime,” said TWRA Captain Matt Majors.
MADD supports our water safety partners in reminding all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and never drink and boat.
The press event can be viewed by clicking this link.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.
Contact: Darnisha Green, MADD