Boating Safety Campaigns

The Law Enforcement Division promotes safe and responsible recreational boating by participating in joint state and national campaigns that include a proactive combination of public outreach, education, and increased law enforcement patrols. 

Campaign Information

Tab/Accordion Items

Logo of safety campaign against drinking and driving on the road or on the water.

“On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” is an annual summer campaign to reduce alcohol-related accidents during increased traffic on the state’s roadways and waterways. Awareness and enforcement efforts focus on two of the busiest summer holiday weekends – Memorial Day and Labor Day. During this time, officers conduct sobriety checkpoints and promote enhanced public awareness to deter impaired operation of vehicles and vessels.

The campaign is coordinated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the State Highway Patrol, and supported by local police and sheriff’s offices, along with participating non-governmental organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In North Carolina, a driver or vessel operator with a blood-alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds .08, or is appreciably impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, is subject to arrest.

Logo with handcuffs for Operation Dry Water

Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a year-round national boating under-the-influence awareness and enforcement campaign through NASBLA. ODW’s heightened awareness and enforcement efforts occurs during the July 4th holiday weekend each year.

NC Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers work closely with local, state, and federal agencies to deter impaired operations of vessels throughout the waterways of North Carolina.

Each year alcohol and drugs play a major role in boating-related deaths. During 2022, 148 boating incidents occurred in North Carolina, resulting in 20 deaths. Of those deaths, 16 were not wearing a life jacket. Many boating fatalities could be prevented simply by wearing a life jacket. In fact, most drowning victims had a life vest available but weren’t wearing it when they entered the water.

The 2023 Southern Region Law Enforcement Award was presented to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. During the three-day 2023 Operation Dry Water weekend, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission deployed 161 officers who made 40 boating under the influence arrests. One of the agency's most notable efforts was their Operation Dry Water media kickoff event. This event brought several state and local agencies together to emphasize the importance of the Operation Dry Water campaign and its mission to reduce alcohol- and drug- related incidents on the water.

The 2022 Top ODW Agency Award for large agencies was awarded to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Over the course of the 2022 ODW weekend, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission deployed 153 officers and arrested 65 vessel operators for boating under the influence.

Logo of safety campaign for wearing a life vest while on the water.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission introduced the “Preserve Your Life” campaign in 2017 to raise awareness and educate the public about the importance of life jackets. Wearing a life jacket is a simple safety precaution that can prevent tragedy from happening in the event of an accident. There's no reason to not wear a life jacket. In the end, your life may literally depend on it.

Life jackets have seen drastic design improvements over the years. Newer models are not the bulky, hot floatation devices that some boaters remember. In fact, many life jackets are designed for specific activities such as fishing, water sports and even hunting. These specialized floatation devices grant the user the freedom to enjoy their day on the water in comfort.

It’s important to put on your life jacket before heading out on the water. Even the strongest of swimmers can be incapacitated during an accident. In dire situations, there often isn’t time to grab a life vest and put it on properly. It can it save your life and can help you assist others who may be in danger.

Both North Carolina and federal regulations state that a personal floatation device in serviceable condition and of appropriate size should be accessible for each person onboard a vessel. North Carolina requires anyone younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest when on a recreational vessel. Anyone riding a personal watercraft or being towed by one must also wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest.    

When choosing a life vest for a child, always check for:

  • U.S. Coast Guard approved label
  • Matching it to the child’s current weight
  • Making sure it is snug but comfortable

Preserve Your Life, Wear a Life Jacket

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Life Jacket Zone: What is it?

Keep Your Dog Safe While Boating

Life Jacket Safety Tips