This Thursday is the 4th of July. Many people will likely be taking advantage of the long weekend by spending some time enjoying Maine's rivers, lakes and coastal waters. But if you plan on boating this weekend, make sure you avoid being charged with BUI. When a person operates a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol, this is referred to as BUI (Boating Under the Influence). BUI is a crime in the State of Maine and can result in serious penalties such as jail time and high fines.
The Bangor Daily News reports that the Maine Marine Patrol is teaming up with Maine Warden Services and the US Coast Guard for a crack down on BUI this weekend that they are calling “Operation Dry Water”. This will include extra patrol vehicles on the water and checkpoints and police are advising that is you plan on operating a boat at all this weekend, it is best to avoid alcohol completely. All three agencies involved in Operation Dry Water have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to BUI; meaning you will be charged if you are found to be impaired while operating a boat. There are also plans to educate boaters of the dangers of boating while under the influence.
Building a greater awareness of the dangers of recreational boating is a good initiative. The Sun Journal reported that Maine has a higher boating accident fatality rate than states such as Florida and Michigan. Though no reason is given, lack of safety education is probably a component. In fact, 43 people have lost their lives due to boating accidents in Maine in the last five years with 6 of those deaths occurring in 2012. Even though many of these accidents were caused by mechanical malfunctions, a captain who is clear headed is essential in any crisis situation.