The Maine Warden Service will be patrolling inland waterways over the July 4th holiday weekend to ensure that boaters are operating safely and not under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

The service is participating in Operation Dry Water, a yearly national campaign by law enforcement officers, who also will be checking to make sure boats are registered, operators maintain safe speeds and all occupants have personal floatation devices.

Friday through Sunday, the warden service and its partner agencies will have an increased presence on Maine waterways to provide a more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water and reduce the number of substance-related boating incidents and fatalities.

Alcohol use continues to be the leading known contributing factor in recreational boating incidents and deaths, according to U.S. Coast Guard recreational boating statistics.

As with driving a car, operating a boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is a violation of Maine law, the service said in a written statement.

Alcohol use on the water also may be dangerous for passengers, especially if they slip, fall overboard or suffer other life-threatening injuries while boating.

Boating under the influence applies to all drugs, including prescription medications that could make operating a recreational vessel unsafe. The warden service advises boaters to check with a physician about the effects that any medications may have while on the water.

Sun, wind, noise, vibrations and waves are additional factors that can intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications while boating. Research has shown that boaters may become intoxicated after drinking one-third the amount of alcohol that can make a person legally drunk on land, according to a state’s boating guide.

Wardens have responded to several recent drownings, and statistics show that 90 percent of drowning victims weren’t wearing life preservers, the boating guide notes.

Maine law requires each person in a watercraft to have a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device that is in good condition, readily accessible and preferably worn if it’s a life jacket. This law also applies to canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.

Children age 10 and under must wear life preservers at all times unless a boat is docked, moored or anchored. Boats measuring 16 feet or longer also must have an approved, throwable personal floatation device.


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