Media Contact: Geoff Cantrell, Public Information Officer
RALEIGH, N.C. (June 29, 2010) – “Boat Safe, Boat Sober” is a timely message for this July 4 holiday weekend, expected to be a busy time on waterways. Operating a recreational vessel while under the influence of an impairing substance or with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is illegal. The maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine and possible jail.
“Consider ‘Boat Safe, Boat Sober’ as the same sort of message that ‘Booze It and Lose It’ is for highways,” said Capt. Chris Huebner, the state boating safety coordinator with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “Last year, 29 percent of fatal boating accidents in North Carolina were alcohol related.”
Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to combat intoxicated and dangerous boaters, indicates impaired operators are a leading threat to public safety in North Carolina. During last weekend’s Operation Dry Water campaign, wildlife officers made 32 operating-while-impaired arrests.
“That number is down from 44 OWI arrests last year, which is good,” Capt. Huebner said. “Law enforcement was just as diligent but people are getting the message and doing the right thing.”
In addition to “Boat Safe, Boat Sober,” wildlife officers remind boaters over the Independence Day holiday:
- Boating Education Requirements — Anyone younger than 26 operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or greater on a public waterway must have successfully completed an approved boating education course or otherwise be in compliance.
- Wear a Life Vest — State law requires children younger than 13 to wear a proper life vest while on any recreational vessel that is underway. Anyone riding a personal watercraft or being towed by one must wear an appropriate life vest.
- Blue Light = No Wake — Boats approaching within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel displaying flashing blue lights must slow to a no-wake speed. In narrow channels, the distance is within 50 feet.
For more information on safe recreational boating or to enroll in a free boating education course by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, click here or call (919) 707-0031.