Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) education and enforcement directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.
Operation Dry Water is held on the weekend prior to the July 4th holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.
The TWRA is teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Operation Dry Water is being held for the sixth year after being started by the NASBLA in 2009.
TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with the use of life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the effects and ramifications of alcohol use. The TWRA will be intensifying efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Given the small size and congestion of the Hiwassee River, there is no room for drunk boaters. Trees and other debris can float up without warning and since alcohol slows down reaction time, it the perfect scenario for an accident,” said local TWRA agent Bandon Lee, who participated in this weekend’s operation.
In 2013 during Operation Dry Water, there was one fatality, a boating accident in Montgomery County which claimed the life of a 21-year old Clarksville woman. TWRA boating officers checked close to 3,400 vessels, issued 180 citations, and made 10 BUI arrests during last year’s Operation Dry Water. The BUI arrests were a decrease of nine from the 2012 weekend, according to TWRA information.
Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. Penalties may include fines, jail, boat impoundment and the loss of boat driving privileges.
Statistics show that more than 20 percent of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications, officials said.
A death on the Hiwassee River in August 2011 resulted in charges being brought against Deontae Cortez Davis. Davis was indicted on vehicular homicide after Misty Rymer Thompson died during an incident on a boat that Davis was reportedly piloting.
“They (Deontae Davis and Thompson) traveled downstream from the Charleston Boat Dock and Highway 11 bridge and struck a concrete walk which is used for barge tie-offs,” TWRA agent Ben Davis said.
The case is set for trial beginning July 15.
For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit www.operationdrywater.org.