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DNR ramps up enforcement of boating while drinking for weekend
Lake Lanier

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is increasing enforcement regarding boaters under the influence this weekend on all state waterways.

The campaign is known as Operation Dry Water, which will run Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1.

“The mission of Operation Dry Water is to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related incidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water,” according to a DNR news release.

DNR spokesman Mark McKinnon did not have any numbers specific to Lake Lanier regarding enforcement officers.

“All of the units up there will be at full force for the whole weekend and really for most of next week through next weekend,” he said. 

DNR officials said the focus will be on educating boaters about the law. Having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher while operating a boat is illegal in Georgia.

According to DNR, there were 17 BUI arrests and 686 citations/warnings during the operation last year. The Georgia game wardens came into contact with 1,813 vessels and 4,793 boaters.

Across the nation last year, there were 518 BUI arrests and 33,243 citations/warnings during Operation Dry Water.

“The accidents and tragedies that happen because individuals choose to drive drunk or impaired, on land or on the water, are preventable. The decision lies with the individual on whether they choose to operate a boat or vehicle while under the influence,” said DNR law enforcement division director Col. Eddie Henderson in a news release. “As law enforcement, it is our job to do all we can to ensure the safety of our recreational boaters and paddlers. That is why we are joining other states and agencies across the country to do our part in keeping boaters safe and preventing accidents related to boating under the influence.”

DNR usually records statistics for the Fourth of July weekend. Because the holiday falls in the middle of the week, McKinnon said the department would be collecting numbers for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“We expect both weekends to be very busy,” McKinnon said.