RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 15, 2010) – Wildlife Officers of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission were among those honored for their vigilance against drunk driving, during a ceremony at the U.S.S. North Carolina battleship memorial in Wilmington on Dec. 10.
Justice in Motion and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program lighted a special Christmas tree inside the U.S.S. North Carolina auditorium, with each strand of ornaments representing an agency, group or individual working to prevent alcohol-related highway fatalities. The mission of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program is to promote highway safety awareness and reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in the state of North Carolina through the planning and execution of safety programs.
The drunk driving targeted by wildlife officers is most often impaired boat operators. North Carolina sets the same limit for intoxication – .08 blood alcohol concentration – for operating a boat as for operating a motor vehicle. A boat operator who is appreciably impaired may be charged regardless of blood alcohol level. Maximum fines are $1,000 and possible jail time.
North Carolina conducts an annual “Boat Safe, Boat Sober” campaign to educate the public about the dangers of intoxication on the water. Alcohol is a factor in over 20 percent of boating fatalities. Alcohol affects the skills necessary to operate a boat, including:
- Peripheral vision and ability to focus
- Judgment and rational decision-making
- Balance and equilibrium
- Coordination and reaction time
North Carolina also participates in the annual Operation Dry Water, a national weekend of boating sobriety detection and enforcement aimed at reducing alcohol-related accidents and fatalities, organized by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard. State leadership and media cooperation is provided by wildlife officers and assisted by partner law enforcement agencies.
A group of five wildlife officers make up the Boating Under the Influence Prevention Instructor Team, which provides statewide instruction for law enforcement officers in detecting and apprehending intoxicated boaters.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission administers free boating safety education courses that are required for anyone younger than 26 years old operating a vessel powered by 10 horsepower or greater motor on public waterways. To check course availability, go to Boating Education Courses or call (919) 707-0031.