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

The service is once again participating in a yearly national campaign known as Operation Dry Water, when law enforcement officers across the United States also will be making sure boats are registered, operators maintain safe speeds and occupants are wearing life jackets.

Friday through Sunday, the warden service and its partner agencies will have an increased presence on Maine waterways to foster an atmosphere of deterrence and help reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities.

“Maine’s boating activity increases in July, and the July Fourth holiday weekend brings a high volume of recreational boating traffic to Maine’s waters,” said Mark Latti, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

In 2018, alcohol consumption was the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths and a major factor in critical incidents on the water, according to U.S. Coast Guard data.

During Operation Dry Water 2019, Maine game wardens issued 148 summonses and 467 warnings for various boating violations, Latti said.

They also arrested four boat operators for operating under the influence, one of whom had a blood alcohol level of .31, which is nearly four times the legal limit of .08 for adults age 21 or older.

Alcohol use among passengers is dangerous, too, the warden service noted. Intoxicated passengers may slip and fall overboard or suffer other life-threatening incidents.

The prohibition on boating under the influence also applies to drugs, including prescription medications that can make operating a recreational vessel unsafe. The warden service recommends checking with a medical professional about potential side effects of medications.

The warden service advises boaters to always wear life jackets; stay alert and aware of others on the water; and operate at speeds that are safe and reasonable for the surroundings.

“Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back,” Latti said.

Boats can be registered at mefishwildlife.com or municipal offices.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.