PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– 4th of July is one of the most dangerous times of the year for boaters as many people take to the water while under the influence. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is trying to keep the public safe as they launch ‘Operation Dry Water’.
“We’re gonna be out in an enhanced effort targeting and looking for operators who are impaired,” said Robert Ramos, an FWC officer.
This weekend will be all hands on deck for the FWC as they patrol our local waters for those who should not be behind the wheel.
“It’s not illegal for the operator to actually consume alcohol but it’s the same .08 as a DUI applies to BUI or ‘Boating Under the Influence’,” said Ramos.
Ramos says when conducting safety inspections, they check for impaired drivers and look for properly sized life jackets, a throwable device, as well as other safety items.
“We’re gonna look for a fire extinguisher, flares, a sound producing device, and an updated registration,” said Ramos.
If boaters have everything they need, the FWC says the inspection can take less than a few minutes. And as long as everyone follows the rules, they say a lot of harm can be prevented.
“In July of 2019, just in the state of Florida, we had 5 fatalities and 68 serious bodily injuries due to impaired operators,” said Ramos.
Those taking to the water say they plan on being extra careful.
“With a lot of boaters and bad weather, especially those two factors, its important to keep your head on a swivel right, and pay attention to what’s going on around you,” said Keaton Willis, a tourist.
“The key is safety. Look out for other boats. Watch the ones that arent looking out for you,” said Jim Causey, another boater.
The annual ‘Operation Dry Boat’ campaign will last from July 3rd through July 5th.