The July 4th holiday means time on the water for boaters across the United States. With the increase in boater activity on the water, there is also an increase in the number of boating incidents and fatalities that take place during this time. From July 3 – 5, the Department of Wildlife Resources, (DWR, and formerly the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, DGIF), in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, will be participating in the national Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend.

DWR’s Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) will be on heightened alert for boat operators that are under the influence. Over the course of the July 4th holiday, CPOs will also be working to increase public awareness of the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for both operators and passengers. Boaters will notice an overall increase in officer patrols on the water. The combined efforts of the participating law enforcement agencies will result in the removal of impaired operators from our nation’s waterways, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters.

Here is local VMRC Conservation Officer Tony Penino discussing drinking and boating:

Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is equally dangerous for the boat operator and for the boat passenger. Operating a vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries, death and legal consequences. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. The Department of Wildlife Resources reminds boaters to always boat sober and to wear a life jacket when on the water. Operation Dry Water is an annual boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign with the mission of reducing the number of alcohol and drug related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.

Visit or VA DWR Boating Laws for more information about boating under the influence. An interview with local VMRC Conservation Officer Tony Penino can be found below:


Alexa WESR