Coast guard cracks down on boating under the influence for 4th of July

NEW LONDON -- To assure a smooth sailing weekend, the Coast Guard will be out in full force as part of a nationwide crackdown in boating under the influence.

Connecticut Coast Guard units, along with local and state partner agencies, are increasing their presence on the water this weekend. The campaign is called "Operation Dry Water," and the goal is to keep people from boating under the influence.

Coast Guard boarding teams plan to look out for impaired boaters but also educate the public on the dangers of boating under the influence. The legal limit is .08, the same as it is to drive a car.

According to the Coast Guard, alcohol has played a big role in a number of recreational boating crashes and deaths. In 2016, there were 282 accidents and 87 deaths nationwide with alcohol as the primary factor.

Since the campaign started in 2009, law enforcement officers have taken more than 2,500 BUI operators from the nation's waterways.

Coast Guard Station's New London Assistant Operations Officer Patrick White, said 4th of July is the busiest weekend crediting search and rescue cases, fireworks displays and Operation Dry Water.

White said the most important thing to do before you go out is to check the weather and know where you're going. Once your out, its about following the rules.

"You’ve gotta remember the amount of families that are out here on boats," he said. "You wouldn’t want to take your kids out on the boat and have some drunk guy fly by coming close to hitting you or you have your kids in the water swimming, its dangerous to drink and drive a boat."

Since the operation launched in 2009, the number of nationwide boating fatalities with alcohol as the contributing factor has decreased 24 percent. To learn more about Operation Dry Water click here.

The coast guard plans to continue operations like this, throughout the course of the summer. Coast Guard members will also be checking boats for the proper safety equipment, such as life jacket.

If you're a recreational boater check out the Boating Safety App to help you prepare for on board safety.