DEEP to crack down on drinking and boating - WFSB 3 Connecticut

DEEP to crack down on drinking and boating

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OLD SAYBROOK, CT (WFSB) -

Operation Dry Water launches Friday for the weekend. It's a nationwide crackdown on boating under the influence.

The three-day campaign enforce drinking and boating laws, and boaters should expect a large police presence on the water. 

Police are checking for intoxicated boaters, as well as proper safety equipment.

The U.S. Coast Guard's 2012 report on boating accidents said alcohol use was the leading contributing factor last year in 17 percent of the deaths.

While the national statistics have gone down, Connecticut's have gone up.

"Its extremely dangerous. You don't know what's going to happen out there," said Sean Scott of Deep River. "You have a few beers or something, you're not going to make it into shore. You don't know if anybody's going to be around to help you."

This weekend many waterfront communities are participating in a national campaign against boating under the influence.

State and federal laws prohibit operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol content exceeding the Connecticut limit of .08 percent.

Eyewitness News found several boaters applauding the effort.

"I have my family out on the boat there for the safety of my family, and their family," said Bill Kenefick of Old Saybrook. "I want the waterway safe, highways and other areas."

Connecticut had four boating deaths last year attributed to alcohol, which compared to national statistics alcohol contributed to 140 of the 651 recreational boating deaths.

Sea Tow Capt. Tom Heinsenn is also a police officer in Old Lyme, which is a shoreline community that plans to be very active on the water this weekend.

"There's a lot of new boaters out there unfamiliar with the waters, unfamiliar with the technology, GPS and radios," Heinsenn said. "It's very confusing and difficult on an average day with their family. People add alcohol to the mix, it becomes a lot more difficult."

Besides increased patrols, Saturday night there will be a large DUI spot check. Police will be checking for alcohol, proper vests and other vital safety equipment that's required to have on board.

For more information about Operation Dry Water, click the following link, http://www.operationdrywater.org.

For more information about DEEP, click the following link, http://www.ct.gov/deep/enconpolice

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