PFBC to Participate in National BUI Operation
HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 23) – Waterways Conservation Officers from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) are gearing up to participate this weekend in Operation Dry Water – the nation’s boating under the influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign. The nationwide event will take place June 26-28.
“Boating under the influence is no different than driving a car after someone’s been drinking,” said Colonel Corey Britcher, director of the PFBC Bureau of Law Enforcement. “Alcohol impairs an individual’s ability to operate a boat safely and puts the driver, his passengers and others on the water at risk.”
“Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion — stressors common to the boating environment — intensify the effects of alcohol,” he added. “Boating is a fun summertime activity, and we’re urging all boaters to help keep it that way by boating sober.”
Last year across the state, 17 individuals died in boating accidents. Alcohol was a contributing factor in six of the cases.
So far this year, PFBC waterways conservation officers have arrested 11 individuals for boating under the influence. They arrested 93 individuals in 2014; 90 individuals in 2013; 60 individuals in 2012; 62 in 2011; and 65 in 2010.
Filtered by region, WCOs in 2014 arrested the following number of individuals for BUI:
•11 in Northwest Region (Counties – Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren)
•25 in Southwest Region (Counties - Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland)
•6 in Northcentral Region (Counties - Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Union)
•26 in Southcentral Region (Counties - Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, York)
•8 in Northeast Region (Counties - Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming)
•17 in Southeast Region (Counties - Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill)
In 2009, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, launched Operation Dry Water to help draw public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs. During the three-day weekend, law enforcement officers at local, state and federal levels will be on heightened alert for those violating boating under the influence laws.
Since the program’s inception, law enforcement officers have removed 1,875 BUI operators from the nation’s waterways and made contact with over 604,250 boaters during the annual three-day weekend.
“Many boaters may not know that the threshold for BUI is the same as with motor vehicles – 0.08 percent,” added Britcher. “Fish and Boat officers regularly patrol waterways and will have an increased presence this weekend and around the upcoming July 4 holiday.”
Nationally, in 2014, alcohol use was the primary factor in nearly one-fourth (21%) of boater deaths, according to the annual U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics report.
If convicted of boating under the influence, operators could face fines and jail time.
For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit www.operationdrywater.org.