The South Lake Tahoe Police Department's marine units will participate this weekend in Operation Dry Water, a nationwide campaign highlighting the risks and dangers of operating boats under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Stepped-up enforcement Friday through Sunday is intended to raise awareness in advance of the Fourth of July, according to a Police Department news release. Independence Day, falling on a Thursday this year, will kick off a four-day weekend for thousands of California boaters looking to spend time on the water with family and friends.
Officials warn that alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time, and can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of immersion in cold water. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion, all common to boating, also intensify the side effect of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.
In California, it is against the law to operate a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more. A person with a blood alcohol concentration less than 0.08 percent may also be arrested if conditions are deemed to be unsafe, officials said.
If convicted, a person may be sentenced to jail for up to six months and assessed fines of up to $1,000. Two convictions within seven years could add a jail term of up to one year. Boaters caught operating under the influence may also see their vessels impounded.
For more information on the Operation Dry Water campaign, see the website at http://www.OperationDryWater.org. California boating laws and safety tips also are available online at www.BoatResponsibly.com.