OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WAVY) — Each year, law enforcement agencies around the country participate in “Operation Dry Water,” which promotes sobriety while boating.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Committee will be out between July 3 and 5.
Senior Officer Anna Barbosa hopes that people in the Outer Banks will take their safety seriously over the Fourth of July holiday.
“It is a very popular weekend here in the Outer Banks,” she said. “Our county is primarily water, so a lot of people like to come down here and enjoy that.”
Barbosa says they’ve seen an increase in boat traffic since the area reopened in May to visitors.
“It has not slowed down since. A lot of vacationers, as they’re coming down, they’re bringing their boats. More of the locals are getting out on the water. People are going out to rental places and renting jet skis. There’s been a lot of boating traffic for us from what we’ve seen in previous years,” she said.
That’s why they’re stressing the importance of boating while sober. Barbosa says elements such as sun, wind and waves can increase the effects of alcohol on a person while on a vessel.
“It even more restricts your ability to react to events and it impairs your vision. It also can cause balance issues, which is difficult to operate a boat when you have any of those impairments,” she said.
During last year’s operation, Barbosa says officers around the state made 29 arrests, issued nearly 300 citations, and gave out nearly 600 warnings.
Officers look for many things while out patrolling including safety violations such as bough riding and children under the age of 13 not wearing safety jackets.
In North Carolina, operating a boat while under the influence is a class 2 misdemeanor, according to Barbosa, and violators are arrested.
She’s stressing the importance of people staying safe out on the water because just within the last week one person died and three others received serious injuries following boating incidents.
“Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a leading contributor to fatalities and is a leading factor to boating accidents,” she said.
Barbosa recommends that those behind the wheel stay sober and smart and that everyone onboard should also wear life jackets.
To learn more about Operation Dry Water, click here.
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