“There will be no warnings given, if you are found to be operating a vessel impaired by our officers, you will go to jail,” said Lt. Col. Matt Majors of the TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division.

NASHVILLE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be participating in Operation Dry Water, July 1-3. Operation Dry Water is a three-day period of enforcement and education about the dangers of impaired boating.

The July 4th holiday means an increase in boater activity, and the TWRA will be on heightened alert for boating under the influence infractions. Over the course of the July 4th holiday period, law enforcement officers 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 the state’s waterways, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters.

“Impaired Operation is a 100 percent preventable crime that our wildlife officers take seriously each time they patrol our waterways.” said Lt. Col. Matt Majors of the Boating and Law Enforcement Division. “There will be no warnings given, if you are found to be operating a vessel impaired by our officers, you will go to jail.”

As of July 1, BUI penalties will align with DUI laws in terms of jail time, fines, and loss of boat operating privileges. The new law additionally clarifies that officers can seek a search warrant for blood should someone refuse the implied consent portion of the law.

The TWRA 4th of July holiday period begins at 6pm on Friday, June 30, and continues through midnight on the 4th of July.

To support the enforcement and education initiative, the TWRA is partnering with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Operation Dry Water was started by the NASBLA in 2009 and has been a highly successful campaign drawing public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI).         

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications. 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.

With July 4 falling on a Tuesday this year, the TWRA holiday period will begin at 6pm on Friday, June 30 and continues through midnight on the 4th. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/4/2023-6AM)