SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - This weekend is Operation Dry Water, an initiative that pulls together several law enforcement agencies with the National Association of Boating Law Administrators to reduce boating under the influence.
Last year alone, 28 people were charged with boating under the influence or BUI in this state. But, according to the Department of Marine Resources, the numbers are up this year. We were out on the high seas Saturday with the marine patrols, who were busy checking on boaters.
The steamy weather has boaters on their vessels for a cool breeze and a dip in the water. But a fun day on the boat can turn deadly when drugs or alcohol are involved.
That's why multiple law enforcement agencies like D'Iberville police and DMR are partnering to ensure people are driving sober and practicing safety during the three day Operation Dry Water campaign.
"Boating under the influence is not only negligent, but it's illegal," said Lt. Patrick Levin with DMR.
It didn't take long for officers to stop a few boaters to perform safety checks.
"Basic boater safety, to encourage people to go out there and be safe and make sure they have proper safety equipment to be alert and aware to make sure their being safe out on the water and try to deter some of those boating accidents that occur," he said.
With the Fourth of July weekend just around the corner, boaters can expect to see even more patrols out. Especially during the afternoon hours when boating accidents are most likely to occur.
"A lot of national statistics show that boating accidents happen after 3 p.m. just prior to sunset. And as you know, we are just now getting into the time frame," said Levine.
Lt. Levine says eight BUI's have been issued in the three coastal counties which are up from this time last year. When one is issued, he says the boater is arrested and put in jail. If you are planning on drinking, boaters are asked to have a designated driver. Harrison County and The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks are also taking part in the campaign.
Lt. Levine says officers will be looking for several indicators before issuing a BUI like slurred speech.
Also, D-M-R officials say a big problem they've had issues with is paddle boarders without life jackets.
According to the law, if you're operating a stand up paddle board on waters outside a swimming area, a life jacket or personal floatation device must be worn. Also anyone under the age of 12 must have a life jacket on while a vessel is under way.