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Ga. DNR to participate in Operation Dry Water over weekend

COVINGTON -- As part of a national campaign to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence (BUI) the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division will participate in Operation Dry Water Friday through Sunday, June 28-30.

The mission of Operation Dry Water is also to bring awareness and education to recreational boaters about the dangers of alcohol and drug use on the water.

"We are dedicated to keeping boaters safe on our waters. Boating is a safe and enjoyable pastime when people stay alert and follow the rules," said DNR Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver. "You will see our officers out on the water looking for boaters who are operating a vessel under the influence."

Despite the fact that it is against the law nationwide for a person to operate a recreational vessel with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration (.08 or higher in Georgia), BUI continues to be a problem across the U.S.

Conservation rangers have made 71 arrests so far this year on state lakes and waterways in Georgia, and a total of 180 in 2012.

Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administration in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water just before the Fourth of July to give BUI enforcement high visibility before a holiday known for drinking and boating. Alcohol use is a factor in 17 percent of boating fatalities.