Conservation officers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will join law enforcement agencies across the nation for Operation Dry Water during the July 4 holiday weekend.
Operation Dry Water is a national campaign designed to educate the public about the danger of boating while impaired. Kentucky will increase its law enforcement presence around the state’s lakes and rivers from July 3-5 as a reminder not to boat under the influence.
Impaired boating is a leading contributor to recreational boating deaths.
“We’ve seen a surge in the number of boaters — and especially, inexperienced boaters — in the past few months. We’re expecting heavy boater traffic during the holiday,” said Col. Eric Gibson, director of law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We want to ensure that all boaters have a safe experience while they’re enjoying Kentucky’s waters.”
Gibson said the department will have enhanced patrols to provide increased vigilance for dangerous boaters on the state’s waterways.
A law enacted in 2019 allows officers to make a boating under the influence arrest based on probable cause of operator intoxication, when an accident has caused property damage or physical injury.
Persons arrested for boating under the influence may be subject to 24 hours detention for a first offense and 48 hours for a second offense.
Operation Dry Water is an annual event coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and various other law enforcement agencies. Since its inception in 2009, participating officers across the country have removed thousands of impaired operators from the nation’s waterways during this event.
The department also wants to remind boaters to practice safe social distancing. Boaters should keep at least six feet away from other people not living in their household. “Rafting up,” or tying large groups of boats together, is not encouraged.