U.S. Coast Guard Launches Operation Dry Water in Southern California This Weekend

Operation Dry Water is a campaign occurring for boating under the influence (BUI) in California and throughout the country, June 24-26, 2011, that focuses on enforcement and education in an effort to decrease boating accidents and fatalities related to alcohol and/or drug use. According to OperationDryWater.org, the campaign happens each year during the weekend before 4th of July and is organized by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the Coast Guard, the states, and other organizations.

During Operation Dry Water, there will be increased patrols as well as BUI sobriety testing. In addition to the breathalyzer tests and others, for the first time ever, marine patrol officers can now test boaters in a seated position and apply the percentage of probability that a 0.08 BAC level of impairment exists. The series of BUI tests have been approved for marine use and are based on results from a three-year study carried out by the Southern California Research Institute.

The new California BUI field sobriety tests are conducted on the water and no longer take place on the land on a steady platform, which raises questions regarding accuracy in determining whether a person is under the influence. Some of the tests include finger to nose, horizontal gaze and nystagmus, palm pat, and hand coordination. If a boat operator is BUI, the boating trip will be terminated, the operator may be arrested and the boat itself may be impounded. The full list of potential penalties includes: fines, imprisonment, loss of boating privileges, boat impoundment, and even the loss of driving privileges.

Marine law enforcement patrols throughout Southern California will be taking Operation Dry Water very seriously and are likely to penalize anyone who even remotely seems to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even in boating, however, the use of alcohol does not automatically deem a boat operator impaired. If you have been arrested for BUI on a boat in one of Southern California’s marinas, such as Ventura, Oxnard, Marina Del Rey, Huntington Harbor, Newport Beach, Dana Point or Oceanside; or if you have been at the river or even on Lake Elsinore and have been arrested, call the Southern California BUI attorneys at Sitkoff & Hanrahan at 866-430-8383.

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