BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — Over the holiday weekend, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers will be patrolling the water to make sure boaters are following the rules.
This is a part of “Operation Dry Water.” A campaign to bring awareness to the dangers of boating while impaired.
FWC Public Information Officer Robert Ramos said he wants people to think about their actions before getting on the water.
“We want people to understand the hazards of drinking while impaired and to make sure that they understand that if that is going to take place then the officers are going to have to take action on that,” Ramos said.
Ramos said boaters should think of the rules for boating like driving. Designate a sober boat operator and do not distract the driver so all passengers get back to shore safely.
“It’s a risk to everybody on the boat, not just the driver,” Ramos said.
Ramos said last year, Bay County was ranked number seven in the state of Florida for the most boating accidents and 23 percent of those accidents were due to alcohol or drug use. This year FWC officers will be on high alert to make sure boaters are staying safe this Fourth of July weekend
Ramos said the consequences of drinking and boating include jail time, fines, and suspension of boating privileges.
However, drinking isn’t the only concern. There are other safety regulations too. He said they often stop boats to do a routine safety inspection. They check to make sure each boat has enough life vests for each passenger, a fire extinguisher, a type four throw cushion, and a noise device.
“We’re out here looking around making sure everyone is being safe and doing everything the right way and it looks like you guys are,” Ramos said.
Officer Ramos said people should have a plan before getting on the water to avoid accidents this weekend.